A general strike that was expected to bring Israel to a grinding halt Monday was
lifted after four hours, in compliance with a last-minute court
After an all-night hearing, the National Labor Court issued a
temporary order at 6 a.m., allowing the strike to go forward but demanding it
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Most of the public sector shut down during the brief
strike, including airports, seaports, mass transportation, local authorities,
government offices, hospitals and universities.
National Labor Court
President Nili Arad said in the ruling the conflict behind the strike was
complex and required more time for negotiations.
According to the ruling,
intensive court-supervised negotiations between the Histadrut labor federation
and the Finance Ministry will continue. The parties have been ordered to submit
a written report to the court by 12 p.m. Thursday regarding their
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz will meet Tuesday morning at Eini’s Tel Aviv office, both sides said in
The Histadrut wants the more-than-100,000 cleaners,
guards and maintenance staff servicing the public sector as contract workers to
be moved into direct employment.
Steinitz and Finance Ministry officials
have said they support improving the salaries and work conditions of contract workers, but the Histadrut maintains
that only a commitment to move them to direct employment will suffice.
response to the court’s decision, Eini said: “The fight for contract workers is
only beginning. We are determined to continue in order to reduce this phenomenon
and we hope the government and employers will use these next few days given to
us by the court to conduct intense and real negotiations in order to reach an
The Finance Ministry said it respected the court’s decision
and was open to resuming negotiations.
The court held the hearing after
the Finance Ministry, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Federation of
Israeli Economic Organizations and Union of Local Authorities all sought
injunctions against the strike.
Meanwhile, the Knesset Economics
Committee will hold an emergency discussion on contract workers on
According to the committee chairman, Carmel Shama-Hacohen
(Likud), “the purpose is to examine the economic-financial significance of
hiring contract workers, as opposed to the alternative of direct
He added: “The committee will discuss if there really is a
difference that influences the economy [when contract workers are hired], and if
that difference is worth the negative price that stains all of us.”
committee will also attempt to find solutions for the current conflict between
the Histadrut and the government.
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