Crisis averted: Jerusalem strike is over

The municipality will retract the order to fire 2,150 employees, as was announced by Mayor Nir Barkat last week.

Garbage at the Mahane Yehudah market in Jerusalem because of Municipality strike, January 7, 2018 Credit: Udi Shaham
Approximately 14 hours after it started, the Jerusalem Municipality workers’ strike ended on Sunday.
With the mediation of Histadrut chairman Avi Nissankorn, both the Finance Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality decided to form a joint team to discuss and resolve all relevant issues and discuss the special “capital’s grant” that is given to the city. It was agreed that the team would be given up to 45 days to come up with solutions to the crisis.
The team will be headed by three directors-general: Shai Babad of the Finance Ministry, Mordechai Cohen of the Interior Ministry and Amnon Merhav of the Jerusalem Municipality.
Meanwhile, it was decided that the municipality will retract its order to fire 2,150 employees – an order that was announced by Mayor Nir Barkat last week.
Barkat thanked Nissankorn for his efforts to end the strife.
“We sat this morning in his office for two hours and presented the problems and challenges that Jerusalem is facing, and that demand financial assistance,” Barkat said.
“We then agreed with the Treasury to form a joint team – supervised by the Histadrut chairman – to find an agreed-upon path and a solution [to the crisis],” he added. “I believe in his ability to bridge between both sides and to bring an end to this crisis.”
Throughout the day, garbage was piled all over the capital, as garbage collectors participated in the strike. At one point, Aggripas Street – one of the busiest roads in Jerusalem, located in the vicinity of the Mahaneh Yehuda market – was blocked by garbage.
Jerusalem’s municipality opposition leader and mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) criticized Barkat for creating an artificial crisis by threatening to fire the employees.
“Good for Barkat for running a personal campaign,” Berkovitch said sarcastically. “He made some headlines at the expense of the residents of Jerusalem – and achieved nothing.”
“He filled the city with piles of garbage and threatened to fire 2,150 workers,” he added. “What did he get? A joint negotiation team. This is not how you run a city.”
MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), a former Jerusalem city councilwoman, said that Barkat is “too busy with these festivals,” ahead of his potential election campaign to the Likud.
“The budget for Jerusalem was doubled in recent years, and some NIS 200 million were added to it only in the past year,” she said. “But Barkat is being sloppy in dealing with housing and employment in the city and chooses to go deal with these festivals. This year he spread garbage all over the city and made the city go on strike for his Likud campaign... This is treason against the city and its residents.”
Last week, Barkat said in a City Hall press conference that because Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is making necessary budgetary cuts to the capital, he is forced to fire over 2,000 employees. Later he announced that the firing process has started.
Barkat questioned Kahlon’s motives, suggesting they were personal and political, and that in several instances he blocked legislative initiatives and administrative steps to enlarge the municipal budget of Jerusalem.
The mayor said Treasury officials have renounced past commitments to provide additional funding to the city. He even filed a petition to the High Court of Justice regarding this.