Renewed Public Strike Looms

"In spite of the demands of the Histadrut [Labor Federation] to reach a full solution to the salary crisis in the local authorities, it does not seem that there is any real solution being formulated to the bankrupt phenomenon of unpaid wages and non-transfer of retirement deductions of municipal workers."

This was the conclusion of a document presented to the National Labor Court yesterday by head of the legal department of the trade union branch of the Histadrut, attorney Dorit Teneh-Perchik.

The Histadrut has decided it will wage another public sector strike should the next session of the labor court fail to produce a solution for payment of overdue wages and benefits to employees of the local authorities.

It should be noted that the Labor Court in its last meeting two weeks ago did not forbid the Histadrut from holding such a strike or work sanctions over the unpaid wages.

According to the Histadrut, out of the 21 local authorities that the Interior Ministry claims it transfered funds to in order to cover the unpaid salaries, 18 authorities have not paid off debts to their employees. The three that paid were Beit Shean, Turan and Ibelin.

The document further claims that "without the overhanging threat of a strike, the state will continue to make partial reports, by providing only specific solutions to one local authority or another," wrote Teneh-Perchik. She further explained that while October salaries may have been paid, the problem persists as they are now behind on November payments.

In addition, the document claims that the state did not present the court with a framework for solving the problem of 12 municipalities defined as "exceptions," whose banks accounts have been blocked. Another eight municipalities - not in the exceptional category - were also not listed in the government's report. Finally, the problem of local authorities that have paid wages but not benefits, such as the money deducted for retirement accounts, was not addressed.