Histadrut threatens July 22 general strike

A general strike would ground flights, stop public transport and shutter government services, among other things.

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July 7, 2015 13:35
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Histadrut protest [File]. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Histadrut labor federation on Tuesday called for a general strike on July 22 should it fail to negotiate an agreement with the Finance Ministry over contract workers.

“I will ask every on of you to take all your workers out on strike, even if this will be a long strike,” Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissankorn said. “We will not stop until we bring about a real change.”

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Contract workers have less job security and fewer benefits than their salaried counterparts.

The government says some positions are not regular or full-time positions and require the flexibility to hire people on a temporary contract basis.

The Histadrut says the scheme has been used to take advantage of regular workers, who are kept on a series of temporary contracts instead of simply being hired as regular workers.

A general strike, which shuts down all non-emergency public services, could have harsh implications for the economy, especially during the important summer tourist season.

It would ground flights, stop public transportation and shutter government services, among other things.



“It is unclear why the Histadrut has to make shrill cries and threaten a general strike, which will exact a high and unnecessary cost from the public, when we can solve the issue through negotiations in an orderly fashion that benefits the general public,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Up until now, the two sides had only met once on the issue, making the call for a general strike “puzzling,” the ministry said.

But the Histadrut had plenty of support from left-wing political parties.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On applauded Nissankorn, saying: “This is what a labor union should look like... I call on Nissankorn not to bend against the Treasury and to demand that they sign on to a gradual path for directly employing all the contract workers in the public sector before the coming budget is submitted.”

The first draft of the budget is due to be presented in August.

Hadash MK Dov Henin welcomed the strike threat, even though he had a very different understanding than Nissankorn about how many contract workers were employed by the government.

He said he would introduce a bill in the coming weeks to eliminate contract workers in the public sector.

“There are hundreds of thousands of workers without job security and fair work conditions,” Henin said. “It is appropriate for the public sector to serve as an example for all the bodies that hire contract workers and stop the spread of the phenomenon.”

Several general strikes that were threatened recently have been avoided when agreements were reached on issues such as increasing the minimum wage and the fate of dozens of Israel Chemicals workers who were fired.

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