Central bank employees declared a work slowdown on March 7 over a wage dispute, saying they will refuse to conduct monetary tenders used to supply banks with cash and won't provide information to commercial banks and management. State Wage Director Eli Cohen said yesterday he is resuming an inquiry into central bank wages that may lead to benefit cuts and a request for the return of benefits paid in the past.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer asked Cohen and union representatives yesterday to continue negotiating, saying the dispute could harm the economy and "good name'' of the central bank.
The Bank of Israel's labor union has 30 days to respond to charges that its workers receive more benefits than permitted.
The ministry published a list yesterday of 20 deviations from the norm, including payment of car expenses to workers without automobiles or driving licenses, automatic advancement of rank upon retirement and shorter hours than other civil servants.
The central bank's management and the labor union have been negotiating a new wage agreement, which must be approved by Cohen before it takes effect. Depending on the outcome of the inquiry process, Cohen could decide to set employment conditions at the bank without a new accord.
Bank of Israel workers were among the highest-paid public employees in 2004, with 20 percent earning more than government ministers, according to a June 2006 finance ministry report.
TASE trading carries on as usual
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said late Tuesday that given the Finance Ministry's approach to the Bank of Israel and plans to begin talks to resolve the wage dispute, trading would continue as usual on the bourse today and Wednesday.
Earlier, the exchange said it was considering shutting down because the work action at the Bank of Israel was preventing the clearing of funds between stock exchange members.
If the clearing of funds was not restarted by Wednesday, the exchange said its directors would consider whether to continue trading in light of the circumstances.