Histadrut renews bid for strike over contract workers

Eini says treasury doesn't agree whatsoever with transfer "of even one cleaner from contractual" to state employment.

February 1, 2012 02:58
1 minute read.
Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court

Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Histadrut labor federation submitted another request for a general strike to the National Labor Court Tuesday, after talks with the Treasury over the employment status of contract workers broke down again.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini, Treasury budgets director Gal Hershkovitz, Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations Chairman Shraga Brosh and other representatives for the various sides met Monday night in an effort to break the standoff.

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According to the Histadrut, the meeting ended over the refusal of Treasury officials to move contract workers into direct employment. The Treasury declined to comment on the meeting.

“The Treasury does not agree whatsoever with the transfer of even one cleaner from contractual employment to direct employment by the state,” Eini said following the meeting.

He added that National Labor Court President Nili Arad’s rejection of previous Histadrut attempts to use the threat of a strike had given the Treasury the upper hand in negotiations.

Arad first ordered the sides to conduct talks after allowing the Histadrut to hold a four-hour strike on November 7. The Histadrut began campaigning on the issue after the October release of the Trajtenberg Report on Socioeconomic Change – which it said legitimized continued public sector contracting.

Also Tuesday, Eini spoke out against the removal of customs duties for personal imports, accusing the government of exploiting last summer’s wave of protests on socioeconomic issues, and warning that the move would lead to mass layoffs.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed a government order into effect on Monday which makes personal imports worth up to $325 exempt from customs duties, and imports worth up to $75 exempt from tax altogether.

“When the Trajtenberg Report was published I said that opening the market to competition in an unbalanced manner, while lowering taxes, would harm workers. The protest movement called for a welfare state and what it got was layoffs. The people demanded state intervention and received a state that abandons its workers for free competition,” Eini said.

Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce President Uriel Lynn issued a strongly worded response to Eini’s statement, accusing the Histadrut leader of lacking understanding of economic management.

“The view in which prices must deliberately be made more expensive for the majority of the public, as if that will safeguard workplaces, is fundamentally unacceptable,” Lynn said.

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