The chiefless Foreign Ministry, which has been without a foreign minister since December 14, may soon be without Indians as well, as the ministry's workers declared a work dispute on Thursday.

According to a statement put out by the workers' committee, the work dispute was declared to improve the conditions of the workers' abroad, the ministry's preference for temporary rather than permanent employees, and the lack of proper management that harms the running of the ministry. Among the demands are for "appropriate compensation" for spouses of diplomats sent abroad who need to give up their careers and incomes.

The ministry is the source of chronic work disputes. Two years ago the planned visit of then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was scuttled because of a foreign ministry strike.

At the present time, according to the statement, the workers' are considering the following steps: stopping all contact with government agencies, including the Prime Minister's Office and Defense Ministry; not processing the visits of official guests or senior Israeli officials going abroad; stopping assistance rendered to Israelis in distress overseas; and cutting off contact with foreign ministries abroad and embassies in Israel.

The workers said they have been trying to enter into discussion with the ministry's management for months, but to no avail.

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