As the strike between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has yet been resolved, Jerusalem Municipality employees started their unlimited strike on Sunday.
The workers are protesting against the upcoming cutbacks that were announced by Barkat last week, and that includes the firing of 2,150 employees.
The workers are halting all municipal services - including garbage collection and reception of the public in the municipality itself and its branches.
“All the services that are provided by the Jerusalem municipality are striking,” said Avichai Avraham, chairman of the Jerusalem Municipality Workers Union. “All, except education institutes – in order to avoid harming the residents of the city.”
Avraham said that if Barkat would not retract the order to fire municipality employees, schools will be included in further striking.
Last week Barkat said in a press conference in City Hall that because Kahlon is preventing necessary budgets to the capital, he is forced to fire over 2,000 employees. Later he announced that the firing process has started.
Barkat said that Kahlon’s motives are personal and political and that in several instances he blocked legislation initiatives and administrative steps to enlarge the municipal budget of Jerusalem.
The mayor said that Treasury officials have renounced past commitments to provide additional funding to the city. He even filed a petition to the High Court of Justice for this case.
Jerusalem’s municipality opposition leader and mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) said on Sunday that Barkat is using the city as a hostage of his own political benefit, and sent a letter to Interior Ministry Director-General Mordechai Cohen, asking to charge Barkat with the expenses of this strike.
“[Even] if Jerusalem needs more resources, the way Barkat handles this crisis is reckless and irresponsible,” Berkovitch said. “I hear once again the voices of residents who fear these strikes; I hear the shop owners complain that the city isn’t clear again.
“It is unthinkable that the mayor will order [his employees] to spill garbage in the street; it is unthinkable that the mayor will fund a personal and political campaign using public fundings without that approval of the city council. We must put an end to this, and we will restlessly work to do so,” he said.
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