Civil servants strike Interior, Finance ministries

The trigger for the strike action is an ongoing dispute over the system of repaying loans to civil servants.

strike 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
strike 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Civil Servants Labor Union on Wednesday launched a two-day strike, partly halting many services at the Interior and Finance ministries in protest against what they say is unfair promotion of Israel Discount Bank over Bank Yahav in providing services to civil servants. The trigger for the strike action is an ongoing dispute between Accountant-General Shuki Oren and the Histadrut Labor Federation over the system of repaying loans to civil servants. "The new policy adopted by the accountant-general is causing damage to civil service employees and is depriving them of the right to connect to the bank or financial institution of their choice," said Ariel Yaacovi, chairman of the Civil Servants Labor Union. The union claims that the repayment conditions determined by Oren favor loans by Israel Discount Bank, which last year won the tender to provide banking services to civil servants over other banks such as Bank Yahav. The union estimated this cost the civil servants NIS 200 million a year. According to the union, an average civil servant was set to lose out on substantial discounts and benefits totaling about NIS 1,000. "The measures taken go against the intentions preached by the Accountant-General's Office prior to the tender to implement a system to boost competition and provide better banking services to civil service employees," Yaacovi said. In response to the strike action, the Finance Ministry said that since Israel Discount Bank won the civil service tender over Bank Yahav, competition had increased, and the conditions and quality of banking services for civil servants had improved. The ministry added that the only disagreement between the accountant-general and the Civil Servants Labor Union related to the repayment of future loans provided by Bank Yahav to civil servants. As part of the strike, staff at the Interior Ministry are not responding to telephone calls, mail, or public inquiries and are not issuing or renewing official documents such as passports, birth certificates or ID cards. Employees at the Accountant-General's Office will not make payments to government suppliers. On Thursday, Transportation Ministry employees will join the strike and will not conduct driver's license exams. The Histadrut said Wednesday evening that the dispute was expected to continue next week, except at the Interior Ministry, where employees will return to work.