gas station strike 311.
(photo credit: Rami Zringer)
The Histadrut Labor Federation declared a work dispute in the public sector on
Thursday and threatened a general strike in two weeks unless a dispute over
wages is settled.
“The Histadrut has declared a work dispute because
talks with the Finance Ministry over a wage agreement for public servants came
to a halt,” Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said. “We very much hope that in the
coming days we will enter into intensive negotiations that will lead to an
agreement to avert a general strike.”
Following the announcement of a
work dispute, the Histadrut can by law declare a general strike if after a
two-week period no progress in negotiations is reached.
labor sanctions would encompasses all government ministries, local authorities
(including garbage collection), government companies, ports, trains, the Postal
Authority, the National Insurance Institute, the Israel Lands Administration and
In negotiations with Wage Supervisor Ilan
Levin, Histadrut Trade Union Division chairman Avi Nissenkorn demanded a 3.5
percent pay raise for about 750,000 public servants. It would apply for three
years – 2009, 2010 and 2011 – and constitute a cumulative wage hike of 10.5%.
The Finance Ministry has agreed to consider a salary increase of 0.5% for each
year, a cumulative 1.5% over three years.
“The Histadrut’s wage-hike
demand of 10.5% would inflate the government’s salary expenses by NIS 10 billion
a year paid out of the state budget,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
“The annual allowance for an increase in the state budget is between NIS 6b. to
NIS 7b. for the coming years.
“Therefore, what this means is that not
only would the government have to use the entire yearly budget increase to cope
with a wage hike in the public sector, but it would also have to find additional
sources to finance the union’s demand, at the expense of cutting other spending
in areas such as education, health, welfare, security and
Salaries in the public sector over the past decade have
increased 26.5% in nominal terms and by 4% in real terms, which represents an
average rise of 0.4% per year, the Finance Ministry said. In the business
sector, wages in real terms rose by 3% over the same period, which is an average
increase of 0.3% a year, it said.
Teams headed by Levin and Nissenkorn
are expected resume negotiations next week.