Mizrahi Bank Staff to Strike Today

Workers will be meeting instead to discuss issues of Tefahot merger

All 120 branches of United Mizrahi Bank will be shut today as the industrial dispute worsens at the bank.

Staffers are continuing to protest plans to merge Mizrahi with its subsidiary, Tefahot, the country's largest mortgage bank. The merger is scheduled for Sunday.

The Mizrahi workers committee has called a general meeting of its members for today, despite Mizrahi CEO Eli Yones' call for employees to come to work. By meeting today, the staffer will be shutting all the bank's branches.

In a circular sent to the workers, Yones wrote that a strike today would harm all its customers, particularly as it is the penultimate day of the fiscal year.

"Shutting the branches today would be a new low," Yones wrote. "The noble work of years could be thrown down the drain. We can't allow a situation where the bank's clients and every one of us gets hurt. I call upon the workers and the committee to show responsibility, lest we lose a rare opportunity for growth."

He also wrote that following the merger with Tefahot, the bank's branches will not be slashed to 60 as feared, but to 110, 45 of which will be upgraded. In addition, every worker will receive two weeks' salary as a "merger bonus."

The workers committee rejected Yones' appeal, saying that Mizrahi staffers were still uncertain of their future, their jobs and even about in which branch they would work. They said that the workers had become "pawns ... without rights" in management's strategy.

The committee also said that they have not agreed on the amount of the bonus; they demanded three times that offered.