Histadrut, Treasury continue talks over contract workers

As long dialogue sessions continue, the two are sides still negotiating over “numbers,” Finance Ministry spokesman tells 'Post'.

November 10, 2011 05:18
2 minute read.
Histadrut Chairman Eini, Finance Minister Steinitz

Histadrut Chairman Eini and Finance Minister Steinitz 311. (photo credit: Reuters and Channel 10)

Officials from the Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry held talks throughout the day Wednesday, without reaching agreement over the employment status of contract workers.

Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Trade Union division, and Gal Hershkovitz, head of the Treasury Budgets Department, began their meeting in the morning, along with representatives of the Union of Local Authorities and of companies employing contract workers.

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The talks continued through to the late afternoon, with a Finance Ministry spokesman telling The Jerusalem Post that the two sides were still negotiating over “numbers.”

The National Labor Court ordered the Histadrut and Finance Ministry to return to negotiations after allowing the Histadrut to hold a fourhour general strike on Monday in protest over the issue of contract workers. Both sides were ordered to submit written reports to the court by Thursday at 12 p.m. regarding the progress of negotiations.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini declared the strike because he said Finance Ministry officials would not commit to moving 100,000 contract workers into direct employment. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Treasury officials have said they support improving the salaries and conditions of contract workers, but the Histadrut has maintained that only a commitment to move them to direct employment will suffice.

The Histadrut claimed a victory Wednesday after the Knesset Finance Committee approved the transfer of 90 Education Television contract workers – or 40 percent of all contract workers at the publicly- funded network – to direct employment.

Meanwhile, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon said that the government supports the decision of the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee to strengthen the law enforcing the contract workers’ rights in the public service.

“It would be inconceivable that a company would employ contract workers against the laws and regulations just because the company is approved by the government,” Simhon told the committee.

He added that the Finance Ministry’s proposal to limit suspensions of contract companies found guilty of violating workers’ rights to one year was insufficient.

Committee Chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said: “This bill will not be approved if the limit is not raised to three years. Why would the government be interested in working with a company that transgressed?”

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