Garbage men 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Garbage is likely to pile up on the streets of major cities and motorists have the freedom
to park wherever they like, as municipal authorities began an open-ended strike Monday morning in protest over government funding.
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Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with representatives from the Union of Local
Authorities on Sunday evening in a last-minute – and apparently fruitless –
attempt to resolve the dispute, for which the Union blames the Treasury and
“We were not able to reach an agreement, because we
demanded written agreements,” Union of Local Authorities Chairman and
Ma’alot-Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Bohbot said.
The strike includes all
municipal services including parking inspectors, school buses, garbage
collectors, welfare offices, security guards at educational institutions and
inspections on meat and fish.
The Education Ministry has said schools and
kindergartens will remain open, and they will help organize transportation with
parents. Special education institutions will not be open tomorrow, the ministry
The Union said it is protesting a recent decision to increase the
property tax (arnona) rate against the wishes of municipal authorities, as well
as “populist laws and bills” that direct money away from education, student
safety, transport, the environment, welfare, culture and
Netanyahu called on local authorities to postpone the strike
and save their residents considerable hardship, saying this was not the time to
“rattle” the economy with a strike. He also said the government needed to
continue with its responsible fiscal policy and could not spend money
Netanyahu sent his director-general, Harel Locker, to
meet with Union of Local Authorities representatives and look for sources of
funding to make up for discounts in municipal taxes and water subsidies. It was
also decided that a forum would be set up to regularly discuss issues affecting
the local authorities that would include their representatives as well as the
directors-general of the Interior Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office and Finance
Unlike in previous such strikes, the three biggest cities –
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be affected on Monday.
“This is not
social justice, it is social damage,” Bohbot said. “The government is
taking money from its citizens’ pockets in order to fund services in another
pocket. We will not allow them to hurt our residents.”
The strike comes
less than a week after the National Labor Court rejected the Histadrut labor
federation’s request to hold a general strike over the employment status of
contract workers. The Union of Local Authorities is on the state’s side on that
issue, having opposed a general strike since it was first threatened by the
Histadrut in October.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.