Histadrut threatens strike over contract workers

Month-long negotiations with Finance Ministry, business leaders, local authorities produced no results, says labor federation.

By NADAV SHEMER
December 11, 2011 18:22
1 minute read.
Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court

Histadrut chair Ofer Eini at Labor Court_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Histadrut submitted a request to the National Labor Court on Sunday to allow it to renew its general strike on behalf of contract workers later this week.

The labor federation told the court that more than one month of negotiations with the Finance Ministry, business leaders and the Union of Local Authorities had failed to produce results. It asked that the court allow it to renew the strike by Wednesday.

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“We said at the start of this fight that we want to change the world view that says there are two types of workers,” Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said. “We asked that this phenomenon be reduced through direct employment. But it appears that we are dealing with two separate world views.

The Treasury wants to continue with the privatization of labor and it appears only a strike can alter its stance.”

The Finance Ministry said in response that the government is ready to make a marked improvement to the employment condition of contract workers, including substantially increasing their pay, strengthening protection of their rights and clamping down on employers who abuse those rights.

“Given the global economic developments and the forecast that the Israeli economy will slow, the Histadrut must demonstrate a shared responsibility for the economy’s future,” the ministry said.

The National Labor Court ordered the Histadrut and Finance Ministry to negotiate after allowing the Histadrut to hold a four-hour strike on November 7. The Histadrut first threatened the strike after the October release of the Trajtenberg Report on Socioeconomic Change – which it said legitimized continued public sector contracting.

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Eini has compared the employment of contract workers to slavery, and accused the government of not even knowing how many contract workers there are and how many it employs.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has said cleaning and security contract companies service the public sector in every developed economy, while business groups have pointed out that Eini himself signed agreements in the past to allow the use of contract workers.

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