Histadrut declares general strike
Labor federation head Eini set to meet with Finance Minister Bar-On on Wednesday evening in effort to end strike. ‘After over two years of stalled negotiations with the Finance Ministry over wage increases for public sector employees, workers had no choice but to strike,' he says earlier; strike at airport delayed by a day
Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini declared a general workers' strike, which began at 6 am Wednesday. On Tuesday night, the Labor Court rejected a petition filed by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce demanding an injunction against the strike. The court is expected to re-discuss the appeals on Thursday at 9 am.
Eini and Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On are expected to meet at 8 pm Wednesday in an effort to end the strike. Earlier, at 5 pm, Eini is set to meet with Eli Cohen, head of wages at the treasury.
Eini told a press conference Tuesday that after over two years of stalled negotiations with the Finance Ministry over wage increases for public sector employees, workers had no choice but to strike.
"The finance minister agreed to raise wages by 30 shekels, so each worker can buy two servings of falafel," Eini sarcastically told reporters.
Israel Railways, government offices, local authorities and ports are all on strike. Religious authorities, with the exception of burial services, stopped operations, and the post office is on full strike as well. State-run hospitals and the Klalit HMO are operating on emergency protocols.
The strike at Ben Gurion International Airport, however, was delayed by one day, and will start on Thursday at 6 am instead. Land border crossings with Egypt and Jordan will also stop operating Thursday morning.
Government services including tax offices, the land administration, social security and the population registry are closed, and courts are not receiving public appeals but trials are being held as scheduled.
The electric company and fire fighting services are operating under emergency protocols only. Operations at the Israel Bank and the Jewish Agency are also on hold.
Universities, museums and higher learning institutions have all been shut down.
The following services are not on strike and are operating normally: Banks, Egged and Dan bus lines, WIZO and Naamat daycares, municipal summer camps, Maccabi and Meuhedet HMOs, defense industry companies and refineries.
'A means, not an ends'
"A strike is a means and not an ends," Eini told reporters when he announced the strike. "I am upset by this strike, and I don't want a strike because strikes cause harm and there's no reason the public should pay the price."
Eini noted that the Histadrut union was willing to compro
mise, but "the person responsible for wages at the Finance Ministry, Eli Cohen, told Shraga Brosh, president of the industrial workers' union, 'I don't care if you strike.'"
In previous cases of wide-ranging strikes in the public sector, the court issued restraining orders which outlawed the strikes but ordered the government to discuss the workers' demands.