Breakthrough reached to end prosecutors’ strike

Compromise agreed upon by both sides after 43 day work stoppage; prosecutors will get 12% wage increase, return to work immediately.

By RON FRIEDMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 29, 2010 22:03
3 minute read.
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch

dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The state prosecutors announced overnight Wednesday that a compromise was reached on the pay raise the attorneys are demanding.

After 43 days of stalemate, the strike came to an end after Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch suggested to the Finance Ministry that 4 percent be added to the Treasury’s wage-hike offer. Under the compromise, the lawyers will receive a total salary increase of 12% and return to work. Both sides will then submit to arbitration by former National Labor Court president Steve Adler.

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The arbitration will last 30 days, during which it will be decided whether the prosecutors should be granted what they initially asked for – almost double what the compromise proposal offers.

The prosecutors will return to work Thursday morning.

In contrast to the compromise offer made by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eyal Gabai, additional benefits to which the prosecutors are entitled, such as a car and cellphone, will come on top of the wage increase.

Earlier Wednesday, Beinisch called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene and bring an end to the state prosecutors’ strike.



Beinisch called on the sides to sit and negotiate “until white smoke comes out,” during a court hearing on two petitions requesting that the court order the Finance Ministry’s wages director to negotiate directly with the prosecutors’ representatives.

Beinisch said that the government was not acting forcefully enough to find a solution to the strike.

“I fail to understand the way you are running these negotiations,” she said. “It used to be that the sides would meet and sit in a room until white smoke came out. You know that this is no way to run a negotiation.

What’s going on with these meetings of yours? Taking baby steps is no way to advance. The destruction is huge; you need to sit intensively.”

State Attorney Moshe Lador said in the hearing that the gap between the sides was one of substance. The Treasury wanted to compare the prosecutors’ terms of employment with that of other sectors and failed to appreciate the unique nature of their job, he said.

“If they come to realize that, things will go a lot more smoothly,” said Lador.

Earlier, the prosecutors threatened to escalate the strike and stop appearing for hearings altogether, in response to Gabai’s compromise offer on Tuesday, which the prosecutors said was worse than the offer they had already rejected from the Finance Ministry.

Gabai had offered the state attorneys an 8% salary increase and 4% increase on expenses.

The ongoing strike has meant that numerous trials, hearings, appeals and arraignments have not taken place.

On Wednesday, the Petah Tikva District Court released to house arrest Tal Mor, who allegedly killed Shneor Heshin in a hit-and-run accident in June, after the prosecutors failed to show up to a hearing.

Mor, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol and narcotics and intentionally leaving the scene of the crime, was released after over five months of detention, because the prosecutors weren’t appearing for hearings. Last week the court released pedophile Oren Korido, who was recently arrested on additional allegations of abusing children, to house arrest for the same reason.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak seemed to side with the prosecutors Wednesday, when he said in a statement that “the prosecutors fill a uniquely significant role. Therefore it is proper that their employment conditions reflect that reality and society’s gratitude. The situation whereby dangerous criminals are released to the streets because of the strike is insufferable and must be resolved with all haste.”

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin also expressed concern over the ongoing strike, saying that if it went on much longer, he feared for the effective prosecution of terrorism cases, since they could not be heard if the state weren’t represented.

Diskin, however, praised the prosecutors for continuing to appear, so far, for hearings dealing with sensitive issues of national security.

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