Religious Councils to Strike From Sunday

The Histadrut labor federation decided yesterday to renew the strike against the Religious Councils on Sunday. Funerals will be performed only at night and there will be no registration of marriages or kashrut supervision in restaurants, hotels and catering halls.

Women's mikvehs (ritual purification baths) will operate as usual.

The head of the Religious Councils section in the Histadrut, Shlomo Stern, said the decision was taken after the Prime Minister's Office, which has been responsible for the salaries of council workers since the abolishment of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, transferred only NIS 4 million to pay wages, instead of the NIS 11 million it had promised.

"This sum will cover only one [month's] salary, when many workers have not been paid for as much as three or four months," Stern said. "Because of the authorities' indifference, we have entered the holiday season while hundreds of Religious Council workers have not received their pay." he said.

Stern said that in September 2004, the National Labor Court ordered that all local authority and religious council workers be paid their salaries. The Histadrut recently turned to President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asking them to intervene in the wages crisis, but to no avail.