Photo: Guy Assayag
Foreign Ministry
Photo: Guy Assayag

Foreign Ministry workers announce general strike: 103 embassies shut down

For the time in Israel's history, Foreign Ministry workers will close down all embassies, consulates delegations around the world due to fierce labor dispute. FM Lieberman: 'Miserable decision' that harms State.

The Foreign Ministry's workers union has called for a general strike Sunday as part of an ongoing labor dispute. All 103 of Israel's embassies, consulates, and diplomatic delegations across the world will be closed, including the ministry's headquarters in Jerusalem.



The workers union added that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will not be able to enter his office.


The Foreign Ministry's employees have been engaged in a struggle to improve their working conditions for more than a year, and the struggle has led them to lock horns with the Finance Ministry, whom they claim refuses to acknowledge diplomats' rights and improve their salaries.


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In addition to increasing pressure on the Finance Ministry, the workers union decided to escalate their struggle and have instructed the ministry's employees to leave their workplaces and announce a general strike Sunday afternoon.


The workers will shut down the entire Foreign Ministry, as well as Israeli missions and embassies around the world, for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel in an open-ended strike which could paralyze Israel's diplomatic services.


After a 7-month mediation process with the Finance Ministry failed, Foreign Ministry's workers have decided to continuing to protest against what they claim is a series of failures in their terms of employment, including low salaries, which they claim are even lower than what is reported, as well as insufficient benefits and inadequate pension plans.


The list of complaints also includes the fact that the diplomats' salaries have not been updated for inflation in 10 years, and the cost of living in different countries outweighs their meager salaries.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned the unprecedented strike, saying it harms the State: "It is a miserable decision that points to loss of control. It has no benefit and only causes more damage to the ministry's workers.


"I regret that irresponsible measures come at the expense of the country's citizens, while negotiations are underway with the Finance Ministry, and a mediation process aimed at reaching a fair agreement. We will do everything necessary to minimize the damage caused to the country and its citizens," the minister said in a statement.


Chairman of the Foreign Ministry workers union Yair Frommer said that the Finance Ministry had "declared war on Israel's foreign service and the dedicated diplomats fighting for the future of Israelis day-by-day, hour-by-hour. We will not comply with the intolerable neglect of the Finance Ministry's officials who sabotage the vital interests of the State of Israel.


"The treasury's officials are irresponsible people who do not care for Israeli citizens and with their own hands kill the Israeli economy, the national security and our future. We will not let them lead Israel into a catastrophe in the international arena and keep fighting for the future of the Israeli foreign service."


Due to the sanctions led by the Israeli diplomatic workforce in the past few weeks following the ongoing labor dispute, Israel's day to day contact with international organizations, decision makers and influential forces around the world have been severed. As a result, no initiated advocacy or public relations activities with the foreign press are given, and passports and consular passes are not being issued. In addition, official visits both to and from Israel are untreated or canceled, permits for defense exports are not addressed and lucrative international transactions are stuck.


So far, the direct damage to the Israeli economy as a result of the dispute is estimated at millions of dollars.


Despite the ongoing labor dispute, the workers continued to deal with matters with high importance and sensitivity. During the general strike, these issues too will be left untreated.


פרסום ראשון: 03.23.14, 18:15
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