Court suspends negotiations between lab workers and Finance Ministry

The strike is currently in its fifth day.

A scientist works at MeaTech's laboratory in Ness Ziona, Israel (photo credit: Courtesy)
A scientist works at MeaTech's laboratory in Ness Ziona, Israel
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Labor Court in Bat Yam ruled that a hearing between the striking workers from the Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers and representatives of the Finance Ministry would be suspended until 8 p.m.
The Labor Court released its ruling during the afternoon on Thursday instructing the two sides to negotiate privately and said that the hearing would resume in the evening and decisions regarding the lab workers' salary would be decided then.  
The court did not grant an injunction ordering the technicians back to work that the Finance Ministry requested but said that the workers should continue to conduct important tests as the negotiations continued. Lab workers are processing coronavirus tests and doing other testing that is considered life saving during the strike but tests for elective surgeries and other non-essential tests are not being carried out.
During the hearing in the morning, Judge Ariela Gilzer Katz made requests to the state representatives asking for accurate salary data for the workers.  The Finance Ministry has stated what the workers' salaries are in statements released to the press but union representatives say these numbers are incorrect.  
The strike is currently in its fifth day.
The public laboratory workers are asking for an increase in wages. Workers say they have been overloaded with work in recent months due to efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak but that their salaries have been too low for years.
Esther Admon, chairwoman of the lab workers’ union, said at the hearing that the Finance Ministry has not been acting responsibly and did not take the workers' representatives seriously, similar to their indifferent attitude in a labor conflict in 2016. She also criticized Health Ministry associate director general Prof. Itamar Grotto for not being concerned about their working conditions.
Two hundred lab workers demonstrated at the prime minister's residence on Tuesday. On Wednesday night the Finance Ministry requested an injunction from the Labor Court to send them back on the job.