The Foreign Ministry workers on Wednesday ended a 10-day strike that closed embassies around the world after signing a new agreement to improve their job conditions.
The dispute had threatened to delay a visit by Pope Francis to Israel planned for May - one of 25 trips by foreign officials affected by what first started as a work slowdown on March 5, when wage talks broke down.
The staff escalated the action to a full strike a few weeks later - the first by the diplomatic corps since the country was established in 1948 - closing all of Israel's 102 missions abroad and paralyzing most diplomatic work with other countries and the United Nations.
"We reached an agreement that will strengthen the foreign service and help the country's envoys in the world to work for a long time in Israel's diplomatic corps," said Finance Ministry official Kobi Amsalem in a statement.
The agreement will include:
- A new model for foreign assignments which will allow the Foreign Ministry to manage its workforce more effectively.
- A new pension model not only for the diplomats, but also for their family members that have to leave their own careers behind.
- Better work conditions abroad, that includes providing financial incentives for diplomatic missions with an emphasis on countries in which the diplomatic missions pose many challenges.
- An improved career advancement track for junior staff in the Foreign Ministry.
According to the agreement, wages of Israeli diplomats will be determined by an objective model used in OECD countries for wages, and in accordance with the price of living in each country.
"We are glad the State of Israel understands the hardships Israel's diplomatic soldiers have to deal with, and we regret the unnecessary damage that was caused (by the strike). Tomorrow, Israel's diplomatic soldiers will return to serving the country on the international frontline," the Foreign Ministry's workers union said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
While the diplomats' wages will now be closer to those of their colleagues in Israel's intelligence and security communities, "there's still a wide distance that we will have to bridge in the future," the union said.