With high hopes of finally putting an end to the protracted five-year-old wage dispute saga between the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel workers' union, the Central Bank said on Sunday that a new collective agreement is expected to be signed as early as the end of the month. Under terms of the agreement, central bank employees would take a 10 percent pay cut. "In recent days we have made significant progress to reach a compromise for agreeing on signing a new wage agreement and resolving the year-long wage dispute," representatives at the Bank of Israel told The Jerusalem Post. The main sticking point in the wage negotiations has circled around retroactive payments demanded by the Finance Ministry from Central Bank officials, who, for years, had been receiving excessive pay and illegal benefits. Under the terms of the new collective agreement, Central Bank employees would take a 10% cut in wages and benefits, while certain benefits would be canceled. In exchange, retroactive payments demanded by the Finance Ministry would be reduced. "Progress has been made in getting closer to signing a new collective wage agreement, but there are still differences and therefore a final agreement has not yet been forged," said the Central Bank's workers' union. Next week, the National Labor Court is expected to reconvene to resolve the differences between the two sides and come to a decision over the differences, including the amount which first generation central bank employees would have to give back in retroactive pay as well as the contracts that will be offered to incoming bank employees. The Finance Ministry had estimated that over NIS 100 million in excess pay has been received illegally and it is demanding that the salaries of new employees be up to 30% lower than those of second generation employees. In March this year, Bank of Israel employees declared a work slowdown and conducted a walkout over the wage dispute, refusing to conduct monetary tenders or provide information to commercial banks and management. Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer, has committed himself to resolving the year-long wage dispute, saying it could damage the bank's international reputation and the country's economy.