FM workers: Gov’t is using IDF to break strike

The Finance Ministry says to strikers that it is not a good time to demand a pay raise.

June 12, 2013 02:48
2 minute read.
Nachman Shai.

nachman shai 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The government is trying to bypass the Foreign Ministry in order to convince striking diplomats to go back to work, ministry workers told the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Tuesday.

Yair Fromer, chairman of the Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Workers’ Union said that one out of every three diplomats leaves his job after 10 years, and that 10 percent of Foreign Ministry jobs abroad are open, as a result of work conditions.

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Salaries have not been raised in 12 years, according to Foreign Ministry Administrative Workers’ Union chairman Roni Harel.

“The government spits in the face of emissaries who endanger their own lives,” Fromer stated. “Work conditions abroad make it impossible for families to finish the month. Diplomats spend their savings.”

According to Fromer, the strike can end easily, but instead of negotiating with the workers, the government has the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) do their work.

Harel complained about the use of the army to do diplomatic tasks, saying he “thought we live in a democratic country, but strikes are being broken by the army.

This is incomparably severe.”

“We are acting responsibly and trying not to harm citizens and essential services, but we’re being pushed into a corner,” Fromer added.

Finance Ministry representative Moshe Bachar pointed out that there are across-theboard cuts in the upcoming budget, including salaries for government employees.

“This isn’t a good time to talk about demands for raises,” he said.

Acting committee chairman Miki Rosenthal (Labor) expressed outrage at Bachar’s comments, saying “the unique problems of the State of Israel’s emissaries are connected to the rising cost of living, not the budget.”

According to Rosenthal, the Finance Ministry’s reticence has brought serious problems, but the ministry is acting as though it has unlimited time.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor), who proposed the discussion, said the strike has had grave results for Israel’s diplomacy and security.

“There must be a dialogue to end the sanctions,” Shai said. “The workers are justly fighting for their rights.”

“The longer the labor conflict continues, the more it will cost the government,” MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) said. “It won’t get better, it’ll just get worse.”

MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi) said the country needs its diplomats and cannot afford to lose them, and, therefore, they should not make them suffer.

Rosenthal concluded the meeting by demanding that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a former foreign minister, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid intervene immediately and enter negotiations with the Foreign Ministry workers.

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