PM: Strike won't solve contract workers issue

Eini, FM meet again before strike after earlier meeting produces no results; Finance Ministry prepared to negotiate all night.

February 7, 2012 21:20
2 minute read.
Histadrut Chairman Eini, Finance Minister Steinitz

Histadrut Chairman Eini and Finance Minister Steinitz 311. (photo credit: Reuters and Channel 10)


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The general strike will not solve the issue of the contract workers, said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night.

"The conditions of contract workers can be improved without striking the economy and disrupting the lives of civilians," Netanyahu said the night before the strike was due to commence.

"There is no magic solution to problems that have been created over decades, and the issue can be resolved through dialogue," he added. "The economy is in a vulnerable position and this is not the time to endanger its stability."

Earlier Tuesday, a meeting between Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to try and avoid a strike over the status of contract workers ended without progress. The meeting lasted approximately one hour.

The two officials agreed to meet again at 9:00 p.m. in an attempt to reach a last-ditch resolution. Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials will continue to negotiate in the meantime.

The Finance Ministry is also preparing to negotiate all night long in a last-ditch effort to prevent tomorrow's general strike. According to Globes the ministry has asked its staff to remain at their posts throughout the night, along with the spokesman's staff, and all top ministry officials.

Meanwhile, the High Court of Justice rejected Tuesday afternoon a petition from the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce to place an injunction on the strike.

Click here for a full list of the services that will be suspended as part of the general strike.

Eini declared Monday that a general strike would begin Wednesday at 6:00 a.m., unless his labor federation and the Treasury reach an agreement before then on the employment status of contract workers.

National Labor Court President Nili Arad lifted an injunction on the strike last week, saying there was no choice but to declare that negotiations had reached a deadlock. The court first ordered the Histadrut, Treasury and employers to conduct negotiations after allowing the labor federation to hold a four-hour strike on November 7.

Speaking at a specially convened meeting of Histadrut officials Monday, Eini said he understood he would not be able to eliminate the use of contract workers entirely, but his goal was to at least reduce it.

A strike is not the objective, Eini said, calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Steinitz to help achieve a solution before Wednesday morning.

Eini held separate meetings with Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations chairman Shraga Brosh and Treasury budgets director Gal Hershkovitz Monday. He is scheduled to meet Steinitz in Jerusalem mid-day Tuesday.

Nadav Shemer, Lahav Harkov and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.

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