Knesset committee threatens to abrogate postal reforms

Sanctions by Israel Postal Company employees are beginning to cause hardship to the poor, residents of the periphery and others.

new postal logo 298 88 (photo credit: )
new postal logo 298 88
(photo credit: )
As sanctions by Israel Postal Company employees are beginning to cause hardship to the poor, residents of the periphery and others, Knesset Economics Committee chairman MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) demanded that a solution be found by the end of the week. "If not," he said Tuesday, "we will cancel everything we have approved for the reform of the postal service." MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) will chair a team to examine a new bill that would look at all aspects, including postal rates and bulk mail. Erdan, who was furious over the impasse between the Communications Ministry, which refuses to lower bulk mail rates to become competitive with private entrepreneurs and make money from it fears hundreds of workers will be dismissed as the postal company continues to lose money. The Knesset committee supports the workers, Erdan said, but it also demands that they not refuse to hand out National Insurance Institute allotments to the needy, disabled and elderly. The sanctions, which began over a week ago, have halted mobile postal service to outlying areas, prevented allocation of NII allotments to the public, stopped collection of certain government fees and made it impossible to switch health funds or register vehicle ownership. IPC Director-General Avi Hochman said the government owns the for-profit postal company and that it was his job to warn about its deficits. However, he said, the government must provide the "promised security net" for the company until it stabilized financially. Hochman said the company has carried out efficiency measures, introduced new services and been willing to face private competition. But during the first quarter of this year, the company lost over NIS 10 million. He called on Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On to "meet his commitments and wake up before the postal company collapses." Meanwhile, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog sent a letter on Tuesday to Communications Minister Ariel Attias, declaring he was "very worried" from the postal services' failure to distribute welfare allotments to the weakest elements of society, who, Herzog said, were being deprived of their social rights. He called on Attias to "show responsibility in dialogue with the Histadrut [Labor Federation] and the workers and make every effort to prevent steps that would harm the unfortunate."