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The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said Wednesday night it would close operations on Sunday, if the workers' strike at the Bank of Israel, which enters its fourth day Thursday, is not resolved.
"Since, for nearly a week, funds from stock exchange deals are not being cleared through the Bank of Israel, we see ourselves compelled to act for the good of the investors and close the exchange," the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said following a meeting of its board of directors.
The threat came as Wednesday's midday meeting between Bank of Israel management and the central bank's workers' union failed to sway the latter to call off the strike. Meanwhile, the Bank of Israel was expected to file a request for an injunction at the National Labor Court on Wednesday night or Thursday morning to end the strike.
The union Wednesday afternoon said it would proceed with another day of strike actions after a meeting with the Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer failed to yield any progress in the intensive negotiations between the management and the Treasury, which commenced on Monday, in an effort to forge a new wage deal. Still Bank of Israel representatives were positive that an agreement on a new wage accord would be reached by Thursday.
The union was less optimistic.
"From the update we received we could not see any substantial progress in the negotiations, rather the opposite, the expectations gap seems to have even widened," said Gali Gabbai, spokeswoman of the workers' union.
The main bone of contention relates to the updated demand by Finance Ministry representatives according to which central bank workers would be forced to return salary benefits retroactively that it says were paid out "illegally" as agreed previously with the Director of Wages Eli Cohen.
"There is a logic for current wage benefits which have come under scrutiny to be cancelled from now onwards. But we made further compromises," said Rimona Leibowitz, chairwoman of the workers' union. "However, to go further and to demand retroactive payments from central bank workers of which some of them are not there anymore is an absurdity and just shows that the expectations gap from the Treasury is widening."