Strike Ends. Israel Goes Back to Normal

The Histadrut national Labor Union announced ,shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday, an agreement with the government to end the strike.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

Bus service returns to normal as strike ends
Bus service returns to normal as strike ends
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Histadrut national Labor Union announced shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday that it had reached an agreement with the government to end the strike, which was in its fifth day.

The union said it and the Finance Ministry solved their issues concerning the contracting of hundreds of thousands of workers.

The Finance Ministry said that the agreement “will significantly improve the salaries and conditions of security guards and cleaners” who have been hired on contract through manpower agencies and therefore are not union members.

The Histadrut correctly claims these workers have less benefits and can be fired at will, but it also wants the workers to be hired directly so that they can join the union and add to its power in the labor market. The government is willing to improve contract workers' benefits, but does not want to make them permanent workers.

The labor union's insistence that employers, when cutting back due to economic considerations, must fire workers who have worked the least amount of time rather than fire workers who do not perform well, is the main reason - in addition to economically disastrous strikes - that many employers today prevent unionization of new firms or, in the case of the state and existing firms, turn to manpower agencies.

Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz were involved in all-night meetings in an effort to reach deal to end the strike. The union has called for an immediate return to work, and public services are expected to return to normal by noon.

Garbage has piled up in the streets since the strike began last week. In addition to halting trains and buses and closing post offices and daycare centers, it caused the closing Ben Gurion Airport for several hours.