Treasury, Foreign Ministry in talks to end work sanctions

Dispute causes Israel to cancel rare opportunity to host UN meeting; delegates from 50 countries were scheduled to attend, hear PM speak.

Diplomats at Foreign Ministry 311 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
Diplomats at Foreign Ministry 311 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Representatives of the Treasury and the Foreign Ministry diplomatic workers’ committee were meeting late Tuesday night to try and put an end to the workers sanctions that claimed another victim – cancellation of a large UN meeting planned for Israel in March.
Representatives of the ministry’s workers were meeting for the third time in as many days with Ilan Levin, the Treasury’s wages director.
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The meeting took place after the Foreign Ministry informed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that because of the sanctions, Israel would be unable to host the meeting that was to focus on alternative energy.
The UNECE, with 56 countries, mostly in Europe, from Albania to Ukraine, is one of the UN’s five regional economic commissions, with its major aim to promote pan- European economic integration.
The planned meeting in Israel, rare for a UN organization, was to have been addressed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Invitations to the gathering were sent out two months ago, and delegates from some 50 countries were scheduled to attend.
The Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic workers have been engaged in work sanctions for almost a year, trying to equalize their salaries with those of Defense Ministry and Mossad employees.
According to the worker’s committee, their salaries are nearly 50 percent less than those paid in the Defense Ministry, and less than 80% of what is earned in the intelligence community.
The Treasury, in contrast, says that the Foreign Ministry workers are earning 20-30% more than other governmental workers with similar academic backgrounds.
As a result of the sanctions, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev – who was originally scheduled to visit Israel on Tuesday – cancelled because of concern the workers’ measures would disrupt his visit to Jerusalem, but went ahead with his previously planned trip to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.