Strike at Ben Gurion Airport 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An end to the general strike remained elusive on Wednesday night as the Treasury
and the Histadrut Labor Federation continued to hold negotiations on how to end
the work dispute that began early that morning.
Judge Nili Arad,
president of the National Labor Court, ordered Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
and Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini to continue their talks, and to notify her by 1
a.m. as to whether they have reached any agreement.
notification, the National Labor Court is expected to make a ruling regarding
whether the general strike can continue and if so, in what format.
decision to send Steinitz and Eini for further negotiations came after she
convened a hearing at 2 p.m. to discuss the strike and the issue of
contract workers. That hearing ended without results.
the hearing were Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, contract workers, senior
Histadrut and Treasury officials, and employers’
representatives. However, Steinitz asked that Sharon Kedmi,
director-general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, not attend the
meeting, because there was “no need,” Army Radio reported.
Labor Court hearing came after the High Court of Justice refused on
Tuesday to intervene in the Labor Court’s decision that the strike could
ahead. The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce had petitioned the
Court, arguing that the strike would cause extensive damage to the
that it was not legitimate because its aim was to change employment
not protect workers’ rights.
In rejecting the petition, the High Court
ordered the parties to attend a National Labor Court hearing for further
The open-ended general strike began on Wednesday at 6 a.m.,
after all-night negotiations between Eini and Steinitz ended without an
agreement on the employment status of contract workers, who do not receive
tenure or benefits.
Eini said following the meeting that the general
strike would only end with the intervention of Prime Minister Binyamin
“If the PM agrees, the strike will end,” he said.
agreement Eini referred to would allow for the partial transfer of cleaning
workers to direct employment, transfer of contract workers whose jobs mirror
directly employed workers to direct employment, and granting full workers rights
to those who remain as contract workers.
According to a Finance Ministry
statement, Steinitz offered to provide hundreds of millions of shekels to
improve the work conditions of contract workers. The statement added that the
Histadrut was insisting on an “unnecessary strike” that would cost the economy
billions of shekels.
Banks, government ministries and railway depots were
left shuttered on Wednesday, and air traffic was grounded at Ben-Gurion Airport
until the early afternoon.
Wednesday was a normal work day for contract
workers, who are not part of the Histadrut.
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