Hirchson: There is no reason to strike

Strike over salaries to begin Wednesday; Chairman Eini: Ball in PM's court.

ofer eini 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ofer eini 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini announced on Monday that a general public sector strike would take place on Wednesday, due to the government's failure to pay the salaries of local authorities. At a noon press conference, Eini declared that the strike would begin at 6 a.m. He did not specify when it would end. "I don't believe in anyone anymore," he said. "Not the finance minister and not the Interior Ministry. Right now, the ball is in Olmert's court." Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson said in response to the announcement that he hoped the Histadrut would show responsibility and refrain from holding the strike. "The Histadrut Labor Federation knows very well that there is no reason to strike. The state is making every effort so the local authority workers can receive their salaries quickly. We don't want the situation to repeat itself in another two years," he said. On Sunday, the Histadrut declared that it would call a strike starting this week unless local authority workers received payment. "We have given due credit to the Finance Ministry, Interior Ministry and the National Labor Court over the past months, but at least 40 local authorities and religious councils still have been depriving their employees of wages and pension payments," Eini said on Sunday. "We see no other choice than taking union action after the National Labor Court was unable to solve the problem of postponed salary payments for municipal workers." Eini sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday evening, calling for an emergency meeting of the government to enable the immediate transfer of salaries and pension contributions to tens of thousands of municipal workers. Olmert's office had still not responded to the letter by Monday afternoon. "The public-sector strike can only be prevented through the involvement and commitment of the prime minister and a government decision to transfer the salary and pension payments," Eini said. Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report.