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Foreign Ministry strike expected to end Wednesday
By LAHAV HARKOV
04/02/2014
Mediation between Foreign Ministry workers, Finance Ministry due to wrap up after strike called week and a half ago.
 
Negotiations to end the Foreign Ministry strike are coming to a close, Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud Beytenu) said Wednesday, after mediating between the workers and the Finance Ministry.

Katz interrupted a joint meeting of his committee and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Knesset Finance Committee, led by MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) to announce the progress after 12 hours of negotiations.

Rivlin agreed to stop the meeting, saying that "holding a discussion at this critical juncture of the negotiations could sabotage them."

Still, Rivlin said, "the Knesset cannot allow a total disruption of the Foreign Ministry's functions.

"The strike caused great damage to the country's foreign relations and security," the Likud MK added. "This discussion was meant to bring an immediate solution and not be an obstacle or an impetus to put pressure on one side."

The meeting restarted later Wednesday, with MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) complaining that the strike costs more than what the Foreign Ministry workers are demanding.

"If I were Finance Minister, I would have signed the check on the first day. The workers are asking for a total of NIS 30 million shekels," Sheetrit stated.

MK Michal Biran (Labor) called the Finance Ministry violent for refusing to pay the workers for the days they were on strike, saying that strikes are a legitimate protest tool.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry’s workers committee declared a full-fledged strike, closing the ministry and all the country’s embassies and consulates around the world for the first time.

The strike was the latest development in a nearly two-year-old work dispute that the workers declared for improved salaries and work conditions.

A statement released by the workers committee said that the workers declared an “indefinite” strike “in protest of the employment conditions for Israeli diplomats and because of the draconian decision by the Treasury to cut the workers’ salaries.
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