Daily Israel Report

Medium-Sized Strike Scheduled For Sunday

The on-again, off-again nationwide Histadrut strike appears to be heading "on" again this Sunday - at least partially.
First Publish: 5/9/2003, 4:25 PM

The on-again, off-again nationwide Histadrut strike appears to be heading "on" again this Sunday - at least partially. The Teachers Union and the Education Ministry have apparently reached an agreement, but not so for Histadrut Labor Union chief Amir Peretz and Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The teachers will not strike, after it was agreed that instead of firing 2,000 teachers, 250 will be laid off and given extra benefits, while other money-saving measures will be taken in place of letting the others go.

Netanyahu and Peretz, on the other hand, made no progress in their midnight meeting last night, and held another one this afternoon. Peretz has already threatened that if an agreement is not achieved, 70,000 public sector workers in all government ministries will begin a full-fledged strike on Sunday - and that more workers will join in the days following. The reason: The Finance Ministry's stated intention not to pay salaries to those workers who, because of the sanctions they are implementing, are not receiving the public. The sanctions are in place of the full-scale strike, which the Histadrut ended after two days last week.

The stricken offices will be the National Insurance Institute, Income Tax, Employment Offices, Department of Motor Vehicles, Interior Ministry, and others.

The main issues of contention between the Histadrut and the government are certain features of the new economic emergency plan, including: pay cuts for public-sector workers, cuts in payments to the elderly and child-allowance, and mainly, the Finance Ministry's intention to legislate new pay schedules, instead of negotiating them with the Labor Union. Proponents of the plan say that the country faces almost empty coffers and has no alternative but to make the drastic cuts.