Steinitz, Eini to meet again in bid to avert strike

Histadrut says it's still preparing for general strike if negotiations with Finance Ministry over the wage hike demand breakdown before deadline.

gas station strike 311 (photo credit: Rami Zringer)
gas station strike 311
(photo credit: Rami Zringer)
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini was scheduled to meet with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon in a last-ditched effort to avert a general strike in the public sector planned for Tuesday.
Talks between the labor federation and Finance Ministry aimed at resolving the wage dispute ended without result Sunday night.
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Earlier on Sunday, the Histadrut said that it was still preparing for a general strike if negotiations with the Finance Ministry over the wage hike demand fail to lead to a new collective agreement by late Monday night.
Following the negotiations on Friday, Steinitz said on Saturday evening that the gaps between the two sides were still large but could be bridged to avoid a general strike.
In negotiations with wage supervisor Ilan Levin, the Histadrut is demanding a 3.5 percent pay raise for about 750,000 public servants for three years – 2009, 2010 and 2011 – constituting a cumulative wage hike of 10.5%.
The Finance Ministry has previously agreed to consider a salary increase of 0.5% for each year, or 1.5% for the three years.
Should the negotiations between the Histadrut and the Treasury fail Monday, the strike Tuesday would include all government ministries, local authorities (including garbage collection), government companies, airports and sea ports, trains, the Postal Authority, the National Insurance Institute, the Israel Lands Authority and university administrations.

According to reports in the Hebrew press, the Finance Ministry wants to exploit the negotiations and signing of a new collective agreement to institute a mini-reform in the public service.
The ministry wants to persuade the Histadrut this time to agree to differential salary hikes, in which lower-paid sectors – such as teachers, social workers and school psychologists – will receive larger salary hikes than high-paid employees at government companies.
The Histadrut has never agreed to such an arrangement in the past.