Histadrut threatens general strike if no public wage agreement reached

Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation Ofer Eini on Monday warned new Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On to cooperate and negotiate with the Histadrut over new wage agreements in the public sector to avert a general public strike next week.

Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation Ofer Eini on Monday warned new Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On to cooperate and negotiate with the Histadrut over new wage agreements in the public sector to avert a general public strike next week. "I call upon the new finance minister to show cooperation and adopt a model of negotiations or our last resort will be to call in a general strike in the public sector," said Eini at the Histadrut annual meeting in Tel Aviv. "Unfortunately we have not had a full-time finance minister for some time, while the ministry's officials said that there was no justification for a wage increase to workers in the public sector and that they had no intention of raising wages by not even a shekel closing the window for any form of negotiations." Eini will meet with Bar-On today (Tuesday) to restart negotiations on new wage agreements for public sector employees who have not received any wage increase since 2001, the last year that a public-sector collective bargaining agreement was in place. Depending on whether Eini succeeds in convincing Bar-On to restart negotiations on wage increases, the Histadrut could call in a general strike in the public sector as soon as the beginning of next week. Just over two weeks ago, the Histadrut officially declared a labor dispute over the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement and wage increases in the public sector. Since no progress had been made in the talks over a new agreement with the Treasury, the Histadrut can legally declare a strike at any time.