Trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was cancelled on Thursday after the workers' committee went on strike over disagreements with the management regarding wages and its refusal to grant outsourced personnel employee status. "It was only a month ago that we reached an agreement with the management to hold negotiations in an effort to end the labor dispute which started nine months ago," Gershon Gilman of the Histadrut Labor Federation in a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post. "Instead of negotiations, the CEO of the exchange preferred to disappear and fly abroad without giving any instructions to make progress on the talks.This is unacceptable. We can not go on like this." The strike action followed an announcement on Thursday morning of a labor dispute by the TASE to be held until 12:30. In the month to the Passover holiday, labor sanctions at the TASE resulted in short trading sessions that ended at 2:15 pm. Following intervention by the Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, the parties reached an agreement on May 18, which the exchange's workers' committee now claims has been violated by the TASE management. TASE management said that it was surprised by the strike, in view of the fact that an agreement over labor relations had already been reached and the issue circled around the employees' exorbitant wage demands. The exchange's workers' committee was disgruntled over reports in the Hebrew press on Thursday according to which the management claimed that the workers were demanding an exorbitant 51 percent salary increase over three years. "This is an outright lie - demagogy," said Gilman. Gilman added that the main bone of contention in the dispute concerned the bourse management's refusal to grant regular employee status to all the workers employed under personal (outsourcing) contracts. According to the striking exchange, about 40% of the workers are not union members, compared to 10% in 1998. The exchange employs a total of about 250 employees out of which 110 are outsourced contractors, including economists and computer technicians. "We demand that at least 50 out of the 110 workers employed by outside contractors, are granted employee status and are included in the collective agreement," said Gilman. Asked about when the strike action would end, Gilman said that there was no date and that it was unclear whether the strike action would continue on Sunday. "We are prepared to sit down at the negotiation table, but two sides are needed," said Gilman.