Meeting over public sector wages ends with no results

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini meet to discuss increase in wages; general strike planned for next week.

yuval steinitz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yuval steinitz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The meeting between Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini over an increase in public sector wages ended without tangible results on Friday morning.
Discussions will continue between the two parties in an attempt to close the gap between the 10.5 percent cumulative wage hike demanded by the Histadrut and the 1.5% offered by the Finance Ministry. The Histadrut has been threatening to strike beginning Tuesday of next week.
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After the meeting, Steinitz told Army Radio that even though a deal was not reached on Friday, it was still possible to prevent the strike. "The meeting was in good spirits but the gaps are still large," Steinitz said. "At least we were able to map the boundaries and the field of battle. I think there is no room for a strike, because it will hurt everyone - civilians, the economy and the workers themselves," said the finance minister.
In negotiations with wage supervisor Ilan Levin, Histadrut Trade Union Division chairman Avi Nissenkorn demanded a 3.5 percent pay raise for about 750,000 public servants. The agreement would apply for three years – 2009, 2010 and 2011 – and constitute a cumulative wage hike of 10.5%. The Finance Ministry has agreed to consider a salary increase of 0.5% for each year, a cumulative 1.5% over three years.
If a last-minute compromise is not reached by the two parties by Tuesday, the potential labor sanctions would include all government ministries, local authorities (including garbage collection), government companies, ports, trains, the Postal Authority, the National Insurance Institute, the Israel Lands Administration and university administrations.
For now, schools are not expected to join the protest.
Ron Friedman and Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report.