shekel coins 88 .
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The government over the past two weeks has transferred a total of NIS 70 million to 27 local authorities for assistance towards payments of the long-due salaries of municipal employees.
"The real test is whether the money, which was transferred to the local authorities, has in effect reached the pockets of the employees," said a spokesperson for the Histadrut Labor Federation in response to the payment announcement by the Treasury. "Until Wednesday this week, only about three local authorities had paid withheld employees' salaries for October."
The Histadrut believes imposing criminal sanctions on mayors who hold back wages is one solution to this problem, which the Labor Federation has been advocating, but the ministries refused to commit to this proposal until now.
The Finance Ministry reported wage non-payments at 43 local authorities with total debts of NIS 130m to their workers.
In compliance with last week's order by National Labor Court President Steve Adler, the ministry claims that of the 43 local authorities, 27 have now been provided with immediate payment solutions. Of the remaining 16 local authorities, four received partial payments as the ministry could not be certain, whether the funds transferred would go towards paying the outstanding salaries of municipal employees. Another 12 local authorities, which were classified as "problematic" because they are either under confiscations or settling creditor debts, will not be eligible for financial assistance unless they enter into suitable recovery programs.
"It is important to remember that local authority employees are not government employees, but we are doing every possible effort to find solutions for this crisis," said the Finance Ministry. "We are urging the chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation to assist local authorities that are in deficit in properly implementing recovery programs so that local authority wages will not be withheld in the future".
On Monday, representatives of the Finance Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Histadrut will present the status of progress of payments during the past week to the National Labor Court.