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 General strike in Israel

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Pascal
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PostSubject: General strike in Israel   Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:23 pm

A general strike has broken out in the Israeli public sector following the collapse of negotiations.

A general strike has broken out in the Israeli public sector with airports, ports, government offices, and post offices all being shut down.

Histadrut, (General Federation of Labour), has called a strike in response to violations in agreements between the union and local and religious authorities. Histadrut is claiming these authorities are in arrears over salaries and employers money due to be paid into pensions funds has disappeared.

Last minute negotiations on Tuesday night between the chair of Histadrut Ofer Eini, the Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On failed to avert strike action. Ofer Eini has now declared, "I no longer believe in the ministers. They’ve used up all their credit as far as I’m concerned".

It was predicted yesterday that all government offices, all airports and seaports, all railways, all local authorities and all garbage collection workers would be on strike from 6 am on Wednesday.

The strike is estimated to cost the Israeli economy NIS 500 million a day. It is being reported by The Jerusalem Post that The Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce already appealing to the courts to halt the strike.

There is also some limited action in the Israel Lands Administration, the National Insurance Institute (NII), the electric company, and the Bezeq phone company.

Initial reports suggest support for the strike has been solid among workers' with only some government offices at the Interior Ministry refusing to join the strike.

Although this is currently not being reported by any major Western news media British Airways passengers are currently stranded in Israel according to another report from The Jerusalem Post. A British Airways flight attempted to take off after the strike had begun and unionised workers refused permission for the flight to precede although the Israel Airports Authority had allowed the flight to leave. The flight returned to Britain without any passengers just after midday today.

Libcom, Wed, 29/11/2006

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PostSubject: Re: General strike in Israel   Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:25 pm

Israeli bosses demand legal action against general strike

An almost total shutdown of Israeli industry following a general strike has been threatened with legal action after The Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce have asked the National Labour Court to end the strike.


The Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC) appealed to the National Labor Court Wednesday morning to order an end to the general strike in the public sector called by the Histadrut and to invite all relevant parties to an urgent discussion on the matter. The Association estimated that the strike would cost the economy NIS 500m. per day, Israel Radio reported.

The court was expected to address the petitions at 4pm on Wednesday.

At Ben-Gurion airport, flights were being allowed to land, but passengers were not receiving their luggage. However, exceptions would be made for the basketball team from Ljubljana who has come to play Maccabi Tel Aviv as well as for Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman who was expected to arrive via private plane.

The Histadrut labor federation general public-sector strike began at 6am Wednesday, shutting down all government offices and bringing outgoing traffic at the country's airports and seaports to a halt.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini held a meeting late Tuesday night with Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On in an attempt to avert the strike, but no progress was made.

Despite the declaration of a general strike, there were still a few who defied it. Some Interior Ministry offices initially refused to join the strike and opened to the public as usual Wednesday morning, Army Radio reported. However, by midday, head of the civil servants union, Ariel Yaakobi, had shut down those offices, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Kfar Saba, as well.

A British Airways flight also attempted to take off after the strike began. The company turned to the Israel Airports Authority and asked them to allow the flight to leave Israel because the flight crew had not woken up in time to depart before the strike started. The Authority agreed to permit the flight to take off along with its passengers. However, the airport workers' union refused to allow the flight to proceed. Just after midday, the British Airways flight took off without its passengers to return to England.

According to the Histadrut, 81 local authorities and 13 religious councils have failed to pay employees or transfer money to pension funds for months, affecting at least 40,000 workers. The Histadrut estimates a total of NIS 1 billion is owed.

The government is arguing that poor planning and mismanagement by regional councils led them to near bankruptcy far beyond the annual budget allocation.

The Ministry of Defense, Israel Lands Administration, Employment Service, National Insurance Institute, Bank of Israel, Tax Authority, courts and religious councils have all joined the strike.

The Israel Post will not deliver mail but the postal bank will be open; train service is frozen but Dan and Egged buses are operating. Banks, health services, Magen David Adom, and Mekorot - the water company - are expected to work as usual but Bezeq will have no operator service and operate in Shabbat-mode, as will Israel Electric, except in emergencies. Schools are expected to operate as usual.

Speaking at a Ma'ariv conference earlier Tuesday, Hirchson urged Eini to allow a few more days to resolve the issues.

"I am aware of the problem in local government and I will call a meeting today together with Eini and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On in an effort to discuss the real extent of the problem and to find ways of solving the problem. We can solve the problem without causing hardship to our citizens," he said.

Train service is frozen but Dan and Egged buses are operating. Banks, health services, Magen David Adom, and Mekorot - the water company - are expected to work as usual but Bezeq will have no operator service and operate in Shabbat-mode, as will Israel Electric, except in emergencies. Schools are expected to operate as usual.

Speaking at a Ma'ariv conference earlier Tuesday, Hirchson urged Eini to allow a few more days to resolve the issues.

"I am aware of the problem in local government and I will call a meeting today together with Eini and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On in an effort to discuss the real extent of the problem and to find ways of solving the problem. We can solve the problem without causing hardship to our citizens," he said.

Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said Tuesday the private sector could not continue to pay for the failures of the public sector and urged Hirchson to solve the problem to protect the business sector and the economy.

This week, Eini sent a letter to Bar-On and Hirchson saying that he had decided to declare a strike after they failed to answer his calls for a solution to the crisis.

"I am not willingly calling a strike action," said Eini. "To avoid bringing labor relations to the brink, I allowed, in excess of legal requirements, a two-week extension to reach and sign a deal on the matter. But as no agreement has been signed, I have no choice but to inform you that the Histadrut will undertake industrial action in the coming days."

In September, the Finance Ministry averted a general strike over the unpaid wages of local authority and religious council employees and firefighters by promising they would be paid by the end of September.

Eini, Bar-On and Hirchson signed an agreement to transfer NIS 100 million. Nevertheless, the Histadrut says dozens of local authorities and religious authorities, and some municipal firefighters associations, have not been paid, while money due to be paid into pension and advanced training funds is also missing.

Services affected by general strike
The following services and institutions are expected to participate in Wednesday morning's general strike:

- All government offices;
- all airports and seaports;
- all railways;
- all local authorities;
- garbage collection workers.

The Israel Lands Administration, the National Insurance Institute (NII), the electric company, and the Bezeq phone company will not answer phones and will not be open to the public. The courts and post offices will reduce their working hours and will not be open to the public. Emergency fire and rescue services will operate with a reduced workforce, as they do on Shabbat [the Sabbath - admin].

The institutions and services that will not be affected by the strike are:
- Magen David Adom;
- health services, clinics, and hospitals;
- special education;
- public transportation, including the Egged and Dan bus services;
- Naamat and WIZO daycare centers;
- the Broadcasting Authority.

Libcom, Wed 29/11/2006

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PostSubject: Re: General strike in Israel   Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:26 pm

Courts stall Israeli general strike

The general public sector strike called by the Histadrut Labor Federation was halted Thursday morning after the National Labor Court ordered a suspension, but unpaid municipal employees might still have to wait another week to receive their long-due salaries.


"I really hope that the government won't force us to renew a general public strike. The coming week will reveal whether or not the government has the ability to put an end, once and for all, to the disgraceful non-payment of salaries," said Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini. "The court has, in fact, recognized the legitimacy of the strike and left us an option to strike again if the problem is not solved."

National Labor Court President Judge Steve Adler ruled that the Finance Ministry must pay the local authorities' salaries by Thursday, except for those that were disputed, such as the religious councils, which would hold intensive discussions throughout the week to find a solution to the salary issue.

On the issue regarding the lack of transfers into pension funds, both sides were ordered to sign a draft agreement within the next seven days setting out the guidelines for a resolution. Eini, however, failed in his request for introducing sanctions, which would have been imposed on mayors who did not pay salaries.

The Histadrut Labor Federation on Wednesday morning declared a general public strike over non-payment to local authority employees, shutting down all government offices and bringing outgoing traffic at the country's airports and seaports to a halt.

According to estimates, the strike cost the economy between NIS 350 million and NIS 500m. a day.

After a long night of negotiations Wednesday between Eini, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, which brought about the court's decision to end the strike, hundreds of thousands of workers returned to work on Thursday albeit with delays.

On Wednesday morning, the Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce appealed to the National Labor Court to order an end to the general strike and to summon all relevant parties to an urgent discussion on the matter.

"What is strange is that the government did not appeal to the court and we had to take the responsibility of bringing employees back to work," said Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers' Association.

In the petition, the Manufacturers Association also asked the court to order the Finance Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the local government to reach a complete solution, in agreement with the Histadrut Labor Federation, within the next seven days.

Libcom, Sat 2/12/2006

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