Mazuz considers sanctioning local heads [p. 18]

President of the National Labor Court Judge Steve Adler has asked Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to provide a legal opinion within a week on the possibility of making local council heads personally responsible for withholding workers' salaries. "The National Labor Court has, in effect, welcomed the demand by the Histadrut Labor Federation for the need of criminal sanctions against local authority heads who fail to pay workers' salaries as a key to solve the crisis in the local authorities," said Ofer Eini, chairman of the Histadrut. "Following the decision by the court, we decided to halt any industrial action or public strike until next week when the Histadrut Labor Federation and the public expect to have a clearer idea about the government's viewpoint on the issue of sanctions." After Monday's hearing at the National Labor Court, the Histadrut Labor Federation, threatened to resume the general strike in the public sector unless municipal workers are paid their withheld wages by the end of this week. As part of the conditions for halting the public strike three weeks ago, the Histadrut demanded that council heads, who held back wages would be sanctioned and held personally and criminally responsible, in a bid to guarantee that such cases did not repeat themselves. Previously. the Finance and Interior Ministries rejected the Histadrut's demand to instigate legal proceedings against local authority heads. Representatives of the Finance and Interior Ministries are due to hand in reports to Adler on Tuesday next week detailing the progress and solutions to the outstanding payments, in particular regarding the local authorities classified as "difficult." The National Labor Court will convene a hearing on Wednesday. Adler noted that 23 out of the 42 local authorities had already paid monthly salaries for October. In addition, he requested from the government to provide detailed information on the problems faced by each individual local authorities concerning difficulties in paying workers' salaries.