Foreign Ministry workers agreed to suspend their work sanctions during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington next week so as not to disrupt the visit, the head of the workers’ committee, Ya’acov Livne, said Tuesday.
Livne said Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini had asked for the suspension so Netanyahu’s visit would be free of the glitches that have plagued visits here over the last two days by dignitaries from Russia, Estonia and Bulgaria.
In return, Livne said, Eini promised to become involved in the Foreign Ministry employees’ negotiations with the Treasury over a work dispute.
The Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic employees’ workers’ committee renewed the dispute last week, aiming to make the diplomatic staff’s pay and conditions comparable to that of Defense Ministry and Mossad employees.
According to committee representatives, the Foreign Ministry’s management and Treasury have not held negotiations with them since the dispute was first declared in February.
Foreign Ministry employees were wearing jeans and sandals to work to protest their low wages compared to other government employees serving abroad. According to the workers’ committee, security and intelligence personnel working overseas are paid twice as much as the foreign ministry workers, though their workloads are the same.
Eini’s involvement came a day after the sanctions led visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to yell about why there was not a Russian flag at a meeting with Kadima head Tzipi Livni, left the wife of visiting Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at a restaurant in Abu Ghosh without a car to take her back, and left Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov without a limousine following his visit to Yad Vashem.
Stopgap solutions were provided in each case, but – as one official said – it meant the visits were not running as usual.
“Everyone is dependent on us, but takes us for granted,” one ministry official said.
“This is designed to show the degree to which we are needed.”
Asked if there wasn’t concern that the sanctions could cause Israel
diplomatic damage, the official said that if El Al workers could strike
and strand thousands of people abroad, if teachers could strike and keep
children at home for weeks on end, then Foreign Ministry workers could
Channel 2, meanwhile, reported that Ilves canceled a planned
wreath-laying at Herzl’s tomb in Jerusalem on Tuesday because of the
sanctions – and was received by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
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