Representatives of the Finance Ministry and the Foreign Ministry’s workers committee met Wednesday for the second day to try and end the long-standing labor dispute that has crippled the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry workers declared a strike on Sunday, following three weeks of work sanctions.
The workers took issue Wednesday to comments Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman made at a press conference a day earlier, claiming that, as a result of the strike, Israelis who died abroad were unable to be flown back to Israel for burial, or babies born from surrogate mothers abroad were stranded in Nepal and unable to return home.
These claims are not true, one worker said, adding that the workers committee had approved providing the consular services needed to fly the bodies of six Israelis back home for burial, and to bring to the country babies born from surrogates abroad.
The workers also disputed the level of salaries Liberman said Israel’s ambassadors make abroad. At the press conference the minister cited the 10,000 euro monthly salary drawn by the ambassador in Germany, and the nearly $10,000 salary paid to Israel’s envoy in Nepal.
According to the workers committee, this is a gross figure that also includes money the ambassadors pay for their cars, which must be especially equipped for security reasons; for entertaining guests; for health costs; for National Insurance payments in Israel for their spouses; and for home maintenance.
In addition, they pay 48% tax on their salary.
The same expenses also apply to junior diplomats in the embassies, whose base wages are considerably lower, averaging between NIS 6,000 to NIS 13,000 a month.
Meanwhile, as the strike continues Liberman flew Wednesday night to Sofia, where he is expected to meet with President Rosen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, and Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin.