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Israel Postal Company management said it regretted sanctions by postal workers that intensified on Tuesday, resulting in the early closure of post offices around the country, mobile post offices failing to enter periphery areas and diplomatic mail not being sent.
The workers are protesting the refusal of the government to lower postal rates, especially for bulk mail, which would enable the new government-owned company to compete with private entities.
The sanctions followed recommendations of the Rates Committee, which meets jointly under the auspices of the Communications and Finance Ministries, that postal rates not be made cheaper. The Israel Postal Company's monopoly on bulk mail will end in July, and workers fear they will be fired if there is less demand for their services. A few months ago, Bezeq decided not to hire the company to distribute its mail because prices were too high - a decision that means a loss of over NIS 20 million annually.
Management said on Tuesday that it has made great efforts to negotiate with the relevant government offices about the company's future and that, while it opposed the sanctions, it was concerned by the draft of the new license for the company being prepared by the Communications Ministry.
"Without an extreme change by the Communications Ministry, the Israel Postal Company will have a difficult future," said company director-general Avi Hochman. "It will have to compete with private companies with its hands tied behind its back by state regulation. It doesn't have the financial ability to carry the debts that the ministry has forced on it [by setting unattractive rates]."
If there is no change, he said the company will have to "close many postal units, dismiss hundreds of workers and reduce the frequency of collection and distribution of mobile post offices."
He also claimed the policy would lead to the heavy deficits that the Israel Postal Authority, the company's predecessor, suffered between 2002 and 2005.
The Communications Ministry said it accepted the committee recommendations to make it possible for the Israel Postal Company to supply addition services, ensure its financial strength and set the basket of universal services that all citizens are entitled to get wherever they live. Last year, an efficiency agreement was reached that will bring about the early retirement of 450 workers, the ministry said, denying that mass firings will result from the decision.