Providing that their conditions for negotiations are met, union representatives at the Israel Broadcasting Authority will begin Thursday morning intensive negotiations with IBA management on new work agreements and terms for voluntary retirement. The decision to negotiate was taken Wednesday at a meeting between management and union representatives, after the IBA published a cost-cutting proposal on Tuesday. Broadcasting Authority chairman Moshe Gavish has been making every effort to protect IBA workers' jobs while simultaneously introducing broad budget cuts that will undoubtedly affect salaries, but which may save their jobs.
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Gavish asked over a week ago that management and workers' representatives try to hammer out an efficiency plan to reduce expenditure.
When this failed to take place within his specified time frame, he went ahead and published an alternative proposal that called for the deferment of perk payments for 2007, including such as convalescent and clothing allowances and various bonuses.
Workers have been asked to demonstrate greater flexibility regarding existing wage agreements and to control overtime hours.
According to the proposal, IBA television's employees' salaries would be significantly changed, especially those who work on Mifal Hapayis productions.
Television teams going abroad would be reduced to two - a reporter and a cameraman. Duty rosters at the television studios would also be abolished.
These changes would entail changing the programming line-up.
Authorized overtime hours would be reduced by 10 percent, and anyone whose monthly salary is calculated on a basis of more than five working days per week would have to forfeit 5% of his or her salary.
IBA Director-General Moti Shklar presented these alternatives to union representatives on Tuesday, saying that everyone had to make concessions in order to save the IBA and public broadcasting.
At Tuesday's meeting, both sides agreed to complete transparency in negotiations. Management also agreed to show workers' representatives a full financial report.
Shklar emphasized that unless the Finance Ministry came to the IBA's rescue, there would be no alternative but to introduce confidence-building measures such as time clocks, so that the Treasury could see just how many hours employees spend on the job.
Meanwhile, workers have demanded that letters of termination sent to Channel 33 employees be cancelled and all significant changes to wage agreements be frozen. Employees threatened to boycott negotiations if these demands were not met.
IBA administration and management are so eager to get the broadcasting authority back on track financially that there is a good chance they will agree to preconditions.
However, in some cases all that means is the postponement of a dismissal by a week or two or allowing someone whose job was going to be terminated to resign voluntarily.