The Foreign Ministry workers decided Monday to step up their already crippling labor actions and cut off all contact with ministry director-general Nissim Ben-Sheetrit.
A statement put out after a meeting of the ministry workers said the steps against Ben-Sheetrit come because of his attempts to “break the labor actions.” The statement also said that some workers were calling to escalate the actions into a full-blown strike.
The workers have been engaged in a work dispute for better wages and conditions for more than a year and relaunched labor actions last week when mediation efforts exploded after they rejected an offer from the Treasury.
While the workers dismissed the offer as an embarrassment, the Treasury said the offer answered key demands – such as ways to compensate spouses of diplomats who give up careers and lose pension benefits when following their husbands or wives abroad – and insisted it was not going to agree to demands for acrossthe- board wage increases.
As the labor actions continue, one ministry official said that the workers were now bracing for countermeasures by the Treasury to break the labor actions.
Among the actions the workers have taken since last week include stopping the provision of consular services, the issuing of diplomatic passports, and the provision of logistical support for trips abroad by Israeli officials or visits to Israel by leaders from abroad.
The labor actions are having an adverse effect on efforts to plan for Pope Francis’s scheduled visit here in May. A Vatican advance team is scheduled in the region later this week, but Foreign Ministry officials said that the team will visit Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, where the Pope will also travel during his tour, but skip over Israel.
A Vatican representative in Jerusalem would not comment on the matter, saying the advance team’s itinerary is not public.