Contractor workers work at a construction site in southern Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday filed an injunction with the National Labor Court to prevent a threatened general strike over the minimum wage set for Sunday.
The court called a hearing on Thursday and will decide on the legality of the strike.
The FICC argued that the strike was political, saying the national minimum wage did not fall under the purview of the union.
“Any attempt to change the minimum wage law by threats to strike harms democratic principles,” said FICC President Uriel Lynn.
The strike, the FICC estimated, would cause NIS 300 million in direct damage to the economy and NIS 600m. in revenue losses on just its first day. If it continued, it would shut down a slew of services, such as schools, public transportation, government offices and the airport.
The Histadrut Labor Federation filed a labor dispute two weeks ago over the minimum wage, contract worker conditions and the government setting of a quota for hiring the disabled. In the dispute, it set December 4 as the first day of the strike, but publicly said the action would not begin until the 7th.
The government already has approved a plan to hire more people with disabilities and ensure that they comprise at least 3 percent of the civil service.
The minimum wage talks remain more fraught, however.
The Histadrut and several lawmakers have demanded increasing the monthly minimum wage to NIS 5,300 from NIS 4,300.
Though there has been across-the-board agreement that the minimum should rise, the Treasury has pushed back on some public-sector employees who, despite only earning the official minimum, take home up to 2.5 times as much due to certain benefits.
The strike may not be necessary at all, however. On Tuesday afternoon, the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, which has been involved in negotiations, said the gaps were not insurmountable.
“Despite the coalition crisis, the negotiations with the Histadrut continue as normal.
The gaps with the Histadrut are not so large and are bridgeable, therefore I believe that we will reach an agreement with the Histadrut this week,” said MAI President Zvika Oren.