Postal Strike Threatens Businesses
Postal Strike Threatens Businesses

The Israel Postal Service petitioned the Tel Aviv Labor Court Friday to instruct its striking workers to resume work. In an initial ruling, the court instructed the workers not to intensify their strike. The employees' union announced that it will honor the verdict but will continue the present work stoppage in its current intensity.

The union announced that it will decide upon its further actions after the next Labor Court session on the matter, which is scheduled for Sunday, and will determine its moves based on what the court decides.

Regular and registered mail are not delivered anywhere outside Israel's urban centers (except in the Gaza Belt); ownership transfers for cars are not being carried out; diplomatic mail is not being delivered and government offices including the Knesset are not getting mail.

NII benefits delivered

The Director of the Postal Service, Avi Hochman, said that "Israeli Postal Service clients are paying a steep price for employee work stoppages." Earlier in the week he addressed a letter to postal workers' union boss Baruch Weizman, Minister of Finance Ronny Bar-On and Minister of Communications Ariel Atias, pleading with them to sit down and negotiate a way out of the strike.

He also asked national labor union Histadrut leader Ofer Eini to intervene so that people who depend on the postal service for their National Insurance Institute (NII) benefits will be able to collect their stipends. Following this appeal, the postal workers agreed to deliver NII child benefits and they are now expected to deliver NII benefits regardless of the strike.

Periphery hit hard

Regular and registered mail are not delivered anywhere outside Israel's urban centers; government offices do not receive mail; diplomatic mail is not being delivered.

The labor dispute is reportedly causing heavy losses to the postal service, which is already doing badly in the balance sheets. The first quarter of 2008 was accompanied by a loss of NIS 10 million and the second quarter earnings are negative as well.

The Postal Service's clients in the "periphery" are hardest hit. Residents of the rural Regional Councils nationwide have not been getting mail for three weeks, and businesses in the periphery are also suffering great economic hardship.

The postal workers demand a governmental "security net" for them, as the post services undergo privatization. The "security net" should include a commitment not to fire any employees beyond the 450 workers which the union agreed would retire as part of the process in which the Postal Service becomes a registered company. In addition the "net" should make sure that none of the existing wage agreements is changed.