Kadima, Labor talks 'making progress'

Labor said earlier that Kadima is 'caving in' on minimum wage demands.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
April 16, 2006 23:57
2 minute read.
peretz addresses labor faction 298

peretz to labor mtg 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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As the latest round of coalition talks between Kadima and Labor drew to a close late Monday morning, officials reported that "progress had been made," but did not provide details. Kadima has accepted Labor's main coalition demand and campaign promise - raising the minimum wage - the head of Labor's coalition negotiating team, former justice minister David Liba'i, said on Sunday.

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Labor is demanding that the minimum wage be raised gradually from the current NIS 3,457 to $1000 a month (roughly NIS 4,700). The party has called for the first raise of NIS 500 to take place in September. "The minimum wage is a goal to be completed by the end of the government's term," Liba'i said. "I don't think we can compromise on this issue. From the beginning, we accepted that it would be done in stages, and we are happy that there is no dispute on the goal, only on the extent, the pace and the timetable." Kadima officials said that the issues of the extent and the timetable were life and death issues for large sectors of the economy. Kadima MK-elect Haim Ramon said that if the minimum wage were raised in September, the textile, agriculture and hotel industries would collapse soon after. "There is no crisis, but there is a problem in that we cannot agree to an NIS 500 increase so soon," Kadima negotiating team member Eyal Arad said. "We would be happy to say that Labor won, as long as we don't have to raise the minimum wage in September." Arad said there were also some NIS 3 billion to NIS 5b. in socioeconomic demands from Labor and other parties that could not fit into the budget. At a meeting of Labor's negotiating team at his Tel Aviv office, Liba'i listed Labor's demands: raising old-age payments, expanding the health basket and preventing human resource agencies from taking advantage of workers. Kadima gave labor a rough draft of the 61-clause coalition agreement on Sunday. Labor officials said they would demand the addition of a clause requiring the immediate demolition of illegal West Bank outposts. Kadima officials met on Sunday with the head of the Shas negotiating team, attorney David Glass, who threatened a coalition crisis over the issue of child welfare payments for large families. Talks between the two parties will continue on Monday morning at Ramat Gan's Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel.

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