Deal on Postal Company ends weeks-long strikes

Mail to be delivered 2-3 times a week; post offices to stay open later.

An empty mail box is seen at the front door of a foreclosed house (photo credit: REUTERS)
An empty mail box is seen at the front door of a foreclosed house
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After weeks of labor sanctions that have shuttered ministries, mail services, and–briefly–Ben-Gurion Airport, the Histadrut labor federation and Finance Ministry on Tuesday agreed to a recovery plan for the Israel Postal Company.
The Postal Company will keep its offices open until 8 p.m. three days a week, and several branches will close and merge for “optimal” delivery service. The company has promised maximum wait times of 10 minutes and the automation of several postal services.
Deliveries will continue later into the day, and light packages and large envelopes will be delivered to the door instead of being held at the post office for pick-up.
“We’ve put together an agreement that will first allow the company to stabilize and then become profitable,” said Finance Ministry budget director Amir Levy.
The plan will see mail delivery drop to five times every two weeks (two days one week, three days the next), and eventually to just twice a week, as the number of mailed items continues to drop.
The plan will reduce the company’s staff from 6,200 to 5,000.
The Histadrut embarked on the strikes several weeks ago, after negotiations broke down over plans to replace 1,500 full-time workers with cheaper contract workers.
“Employees are not spare parts,” said Histadrut chairman Avi Nissankoren.
“The path we’ve taken over the last weeks is a fundamental struggle the Histadrut is waging to restore human dignity to workers in Israel.”
The company will sell 20% to a strategic investor, with the option of expanding the amount to 40%.
“I hope that today we embark on a new path and that we’ve succeeded in finding the right balance,” said Communications Minister Gilad Erdan.
Meanwhile, just hours after the successful conclusion of negotiations, the Histadrut announced a labor dispute over the government’s recently announced plans to partly or fully privatize 11 state-owned companies, of which the Postal Company is one.
Privatization plans, it said, could endanger the livelihoods of the combined 43,000 employees at those companies, which include Israel Electric, Israel Railways, and Raphael.