Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini on Monday announced that a general strike in support of contract workers will begin on Wednesday.
Click here for a full list of the services that will be suspended as part of the general strike.
Banks, the Bank of Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), buses, railways, the courts, national parks, local authorities, and government ministries will be shut down. Public hospitals and Magen David Adom will operate on Saturday schedules. Seaports and Ben-Gurion Airport will be closed between 6 a.m. and noon.
Monday's meeting between Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials ended without results, paving the way for Wednesday's strike unless a last-minute solution is found. The Finance Ministry is threatening to petition the High Court of Justice for an injunction against the strike.
At Monday's press conference, Eini said, "This is something that occurs everywhere. The Finance Ministry denigrates what took place here 20-30 years ago. We all used to work at unionized workplaces, which allowed us to age with dignity with a pension and everything. But now, 30 years have gone by, and today most employment in Israel is by one means or another. These workers are all our children, the next generation."
Eini added that he knows he will not succeed in eliminating the use of contract workers quickly, and that the Histadrut's initial goal is to restrict it.
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"We almost signed an agreement, but the Finance Ministry wanted a clause revoking these workers' right to strike. Everything stood on this point. There's no chance that we'll forego this right," he said.
Eini called on the public to "try to make a more just and better country. It is in your hands."
Eini called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, saying, "Solutions can be created at the negotiating table. I call on both of you to immediately resume talks at the highest level. We will try from now until Wednesday morning to create a solution. A strike is not the objective."
Histadrut Trade Union Branch chairman Avi Nissenkoren said that workers committees all agreed to support the strike.
Speaking to a Shas faction meeting on Monday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai called contract work “humiliating, and must be removed from this world.”
He also announced that Shas would work to promote a bill by MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) that would forbid government offices to hire contract workers. Shas sees Michaeli’s proposal as the beginning of a solution for this “disease,” the interior minister said.
According to Yishai, the contract work system combines a low salary with “a lack of red lines” as to the intensity of the work.
“Unfortunately, this all takes place under the government’s sponsorship,” he added.
The issue of contract workers was also raised in the Labor faction meeting, with party leader Shelly Yacimovich saying that a strike is the “embodiment of solidarity and social justice.”
Unionized workers strike not for themselves, but for the weakest and poorest workers, she added, calling contract work “modern slavery” and a “disgrace” that must be stopped.
Yacimovich also called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to find a solution for what she called the biggest problem in Israeli society.
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