The Histadrut labor federation's coordination and implementation committee declared a labor dispute Thursday morning over individual contracts at local authorities and government and civil service offices.
A labor dispute opens up the possibility of organized protests and strikes after 14 days.
“The goal is not to get to
that, but if we have to we will,” Histadrut spokeswoman Dafna Cohen-Nouriel
The Histadrut says it is calling the dispute to protest Finance Ministry foot-dragging on negotiations over individual contracts that Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz agreed to in a February 2012 deal.
The NIS 800 million deal, which ended a general strike over contract workers that shut down government offices and banks, and hindered the operation of public transportation and trash collection, included a provision to continue intensive negotiations on the issue of individually contracted workers within a year.
“This is not the end of the process,” Eini said of the agreement at
the time. “We have put our foot in the door.”
According to the Histadrut,
the 8,000 to 9,000 individually contracted laborers in the government have less
job security than those employed through collective agreements.
Finance Ministry says individual contracts provide it with the necessary
“Any reduction in the level of individual contract
employment must take into account the special characteristics of government
service and the need to solve not just the Histadrut’s problems, but also the
many difficulties government service employment faces and the need for
employment flexibility,” a Finance Ministry spokesman said.
said several negotiation entreaties by Avi Nissan Koren, the chairman of its
trade wing, to Finance Ministry wage supervisor Kobi Amsalem went
The ministry avers that it has conducted intensive work in
recent months to improve government personnel management, including pursuing
reforms to the Civil Service Commission.
“It seems the Finance Ministry
is more comfortable with leaving the situation as it is,” Nissan Koren said
Wednesday, accusing the ministry of using individual contracts to bypass
collective agreements at the expense of employees. “Individual contract must be
transferred to collective agreements.”
“I’m saddened that we are forced
to declare a labor strike, but the Treasury had a full year to enter
negotiations and they chose not to,” he added.
When asked whether the
dispute was ill-timed given the fact that a government coalition has not yet
been formed and a budget for 2013 has yet to be passed, Cohen- Nouriel replied,
“The agreement was signed a year ago. There was plenty of time to conduct
“You can’t ignore workers, and you can’t ignore an
agreement that was signed by the finance minister and the head of the
Histadrut,” she said.