Histadrut, Treasury must submit report on worker talks

National Labor Court orders the two sides to return to negotiations after allowing the Histadrut to hold a four-hour general strike.

By NADAV SHEMER
November 11, 2011 04:12
2 minute read.
National Labor Court, general strike

National Labor Court, general strike_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Histadrut labor federation and Finance Ministry now have until Sunday at 11 a.m. to update the National Labor Court on the progress of negotiations over the employment status of contract workers, after the court approved an application from the parties on Thursday.

The court ordered the two sides to return to negotiations on Monday after allowing the Histadrut to hold a four-hour general strike that morning in protest over the issue of contract workers. Both sides were originally ordered to submit written reports on the negotiations to the court by Thursday at noon.

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The Histadrut wrote in its submission to the court on Thursday that it was locked in “intensive talks on the issues under dispute” with the Finance Ministry, Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations and the Union of Local Authorities.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini declared this week’s strike because he said Finance Ministry officials would not commit to moving 100,000 contract workers into direct employment. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Treasury officials have said they support improving the salaries and conditions of contract workers, but the Histadrut has maintained that only a commitment to move them to direct employment will suffice.

The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC) which along with the Finance Ministry, Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations and Union of Local Authorities opposed the strike, told the court in a statement that the Histadrut was excluding it from the negotiations.

It said it informed the Histadrut when negotiations began that the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations does not represent it and that it would not be bound by any decision, understanding or agreement reached in talks in which it was not a participant.

The FICC added that it received no Histadrut response whatsoever to its approach.



When Eini first called the general strike in early October, FICC President Uriel Lynn accused him of seeking a new opportunity to enter center stage because of his “deep personal frustration at feeling left out of the summer-long protests for social justice.”

Following the release of the Trajtenberg Report on socioeconomic change – which the government commissioned in the response to the protests – the Histadrut criticized its legitimization of continued public sector contracting.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 current affairs program Anashim (“People”) revealed Wednesday night that Eini informed the Histadrut leadership of his romance with lawyer Ravit Dom – who he appointed several months ago as CEO of the Histadrut-controlled Amal network of educational institutions.

According to the report, Eini approached Histadrut legal adviser Yechiel Shamir two weeks ago to inform him of the romance, and asked him what steps he should take to ensure there was no conflict of interest. Shamir told him to inform the Histadrut leadership, which Eini did Wednesday after updating them on his negotiations with the Finance Ministry. Eini also told them he would refrain from involving himself in Amal’s activities, the report said.

Eini, a divorce and father of four, has worked closely with Dom since the late 1990s, when the former was chairman of the Histadrut’s public service employees division and the latter was a legal adviser to the labor federation.


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