BOI sanctions on hold [p. 17]

The Bank of Israel workers union agreed to delay their declared work sanctions Monday until central bank governor Stanley Fischer returns from the US this weekend. The employees declared a work dispute two weeks ago after negotiations stalled with management to sign a collective employment agreement. The sanctions had been expected to go into effect Monday when a compulsory cooling off period, from the time the dispute was declared, expired. The workers said they decided to delay the sanctions at Fischer's request, until he returns from Los Angeles where the governor is attending the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities this week. The employers are considering halting cash transfers to banks and automatic teller machines and have also threatened to stop publishing foreign currency conversion rates as part of the slowdown. "I very much hope we don't get to the situation where the Bank of Israel workers go on strike," Fischer told The Jerusalem Post. I think it would be a very big mistake and a big mistake from the viewpoint of the economy." The union accused management and the Finance Ministry, which through the office of the wage supervisor oversees public worker's salaries, of unilaterally setting conditions of employment. The dispute centers around the central bank management's decision to end certain bonuses at the recommendation of wage supervisor Eli Cohen and his predecessors who said they were "beyond public sector norms" and in anticipation of reorganization efforts which they believe will lead to the layoffs of "masses of workers." The union said the decision would result in a 12 percent wage cut for all the bank's workers.