(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The capital’s sanitation strike came to an end Sunday evening following emergency negotiations between the Jerusalem Municipality and the Finance Ministry, which agreed to immediately transfer NIS 17 million to rehire the 170 workers fired on Thursday.
Hours before the deal was announced, Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn, who mediated the negotiation, threatened to file a grievance against the city representing over 9,000 municipal workers, with an emphasis on the capital’s 1,100 sanitation workers.
Despite the contentious atmosphere stemming from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s standoff against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, which culminated in the abrupt layoffs, Nissenkorn praised the agreement as a step in the right direction.
“All sides must remember that we are talking about the State of Israel’s capital, and all it implies,” said Nissenkorn. “We must strengthen it, as well as the standing of its citizens and workers.”
Still, Barkat and Kahlon remain far from settling the mayor’s demand for an infusion of NIS 450m. from the ministry’s coffers to balance the municipality’s badly overdrawn budget.
Indeed, the two leaders are at loggerheads over who is to blame for the capital’s economic crisis, with Kahlon blaming Barkat for fiscal mismanagement, while Barkat has contended that the Finance Ministry has abdicated its responsibility to the foundering city.
“The refusal of the Finance Ministry to transfer funds to Jerusalem does not allow the city to continue to provide these services,” the mayor said upon announcing the layoffs. “We are forced to take this most difficult step and lay off the workers we need.”
Kahlon has cited “serious managerial problems” as his justification for not granting Barkat the funds.