NII, Other Government Offices on Strike Today

All branches of the National Insurance Institute (NII) will be closed to the public today, following the decision of employees to strike. In addition, tenants of an office building in the new government complex in Jerusalem will also strike. The Histadrut labor federation has approved both strikes.

As a result of the NII strike no requests for various types of allowances can be submitted, including old age, disability and accident pensions. The medical committees will operate in some of the branches. Uriel Alperin, who holds the NII portfolio in the union state employees, said the reason for the strike is a 150-person shortage of workforce in NII branches.

"Since 2003 there has been a trend toward reducing employee numbers, but at the same time there has been an increase in the workload because of the increasing number of those who require NII services, which creates a burden on existing employees," Alperin said. He added that another reason for the strike is the NII's decision to cancel certain employee benefits.

The committee will convene next week to decide on a more extended strike if no agreement is reached. NII Director Yigal Ben Shalom called on the employee committee to "hold talks with management and refrain from causing injury to NII customers, who are the weakest of the population."

A strike of tenants at an office building in the new government complex will disrupt services to the public from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Ministries of Tourism and Transportation, the Tax Authority and the Israel Lands Authority. The reason for the strike is employees' complaints of poor air quality in their workplace, which they say has continued for three years despite repeated complaints.

Tenants of the new Tel Aviv government office building held a strike last month, refusing to serve the public for the same reason: Poor air quality in their workplace.