Survey Says: Public Actually Gives a Damn About Unpaid Public Workers

The public is behind the Histadrut labor federation. According to Dahaf Institute, 73 percent of the public believes that another strike is justified if the government fails to resolve the issue of paying salaries to local authority employees once and for all, thereby agreeing with the Histadrut.

In response to the survey, Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said that "the public now understands that a strike is the last option available for banishing this scourge from the earth. It has also internalized the fact the government only gets moving on serious issues under the threat of strike."

Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On and Eini will meet today in an effort to formulate a solution to local authorities' wage debts. And looming in the background is the Histadrut's threat of renewed strike, weeks after the first one.

The meeting between the three is being held in preparation for tomorrow or Friday's hearing with National Labor Tribunal president, Judge Stephen Adler; the hearing will focus on the state's plan to pay wages and make deposits into pensions and professional training funds for tens of thousands of workers in local authorities, religious councils and firefighting services.

The Histadrut prepared a report stating that only six of 45 local authorities in arrears paid October salaries, and even these have already failed to pay November salaries.

The labor court ruled the state must ensure that all local authorities employees receive their full wages by today, excepting 12 local authorities defined as "problematic" because of financial difficulties, or because their bank accounts have been seized. Sources in the Histadrut said that it appears that the state will not meet this time table, and that most of the employees have not received monies due to them.

"In light of the dismaying information on failure to pay wages, I have no great expectations from the meeting with the ministers," said Eini. "I hope that the president of the labor court has already reached the conclusion that I reached on the eve of the strike - that any delay does not bring a solution closer, and only exacerbates the situation. Without the weapon of a strike being held over finance and interior ministries, there will apparently be no solution. Any delay of the decision by the court causes the state to decline a solution to the problem at the expense of local authorities' employees."