Eini: Only a Labor Court injunction can prevent strike

Histadrut says strike to include public transportation, gov't offices, banks, B-G Airport, public hospitals, universities and seaports.

Ofer Eini 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Ofer Eini 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini said Sunday that the general strike scheduled for Monday over the employment status of contract workers will not be limited to a pre-ordained period of time and can only be prevented by an injunction from the National Labor Court.
Eini made the comments in an interview with Army Radio after having concluded a meeting with Finance Ministry budget director Gal Hershkovitz without making any progress to avert the strike late on Saturday night.
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"We will respect all Labor Court decisions, we are not outlaws, but we havea real problem here that I believe needs to be handled seriously," Eini stated.
Eini met with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Friday afternoon, but the two failed to agree over the former’s demands on the employment status of contract workers, who receive few of the benefits of direct employees . Eini has compared contract workers to slaves.
The Histadrut is demanding the movement of some contract workers to civil service collective agreements.
The Histadrut released Sunday a list of work places that will take part in the general strike scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. on Monday.  The list includes local authorities, public transportation, government offices, banks,Ben-Gurion International Airport, public hospitals, universities, seaports and the stock exchange.
Eini rejected claims that he was enacting the strike in order to help his campaign for reelection to the Histadrut chairmanship. "I do not need a strike in order to win," he contended.
No new meeting between the sides had been set as of Sunday morning and the next meeting between the Histadrut and the Treasury could occur in the National Labor Court.
The government was making a big effort to halt “a completely unnecessary strike,” Steinitz told Channel 2’s Meet the Press on Saturday evening. He said he and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were ready to raise the minimum wage for contract workers and to strengthen protection of their rights, but that they would not do anything that could harm the economy.
“We are ready to take the models of advanced-welfare states such as Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. In Sweden, cleaning and guard work is done by contract workers, but in Sweden they also protect the workers’ rights at all costs,” Steinitz said.
He added, however, that cleaning and security companies serviced the public sector in every OECD-member country, without exception.
Eini declared the general strike on Thursday, saying: “A strike is the last option, but we had no choice after the Treasury announced yesterday that it had no intention of moving contract workers into direct reducing this shameful phenomenon that has taken root in Israeli society.”
The Histadrut is calling for around 100,000 cleaning and maintenance staff, employed as contract workers in the public sector, to be moved to direct employment.
On Friday the Manufacturers Association applied to the National Labor Court for an injunction to halt the strike.
The association said a general strike would cost the economy around to take the models of advanced-welfare states such as e could grow exponentially given the effects of global economic troubles on Israel.
“I’m sorry that it has gotten to a situation in which we need to request an injunction from the labor court to prevent this strike. I’m certain there is no need for a strike, and that we can reach a solution if all sides insist on negotiations and recognize that the status of contract and service workers must improve,” Manufacturers Association chairman Shraga Brosh said.
Brosh called on Netanyahu to use the time remaining until Monday to force Treasury officials to realize that this is not the time to allow a strike.
“I am convinced that the prime minister wants to find a real solution to these problems, but it’s a shame that the Treasury officials who are so steadfast in their own opinions are blocking such a solution.
The Treasury officials refuse to understand that the cost we all pay after a strike or after Knesset intervention will be tenfold the cost of any compromise they must reach to avert the strike.”