Ministers' bodyguards threaten to strike

Officials could find themselves without protection if a workers' dispute remained unresolved.

Dichter 88 (photo credit: (Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post) )
Dichter 88
(photo credit: (Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post) )
Government ministers could find themselves without the bodyguards who protect their lives around the clock if a workers' dispute remained unresolved, a Histadrut spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Eyal Malma, a Histadrut spokesman, said the quarrel began seven months ago when the Mikud security company, which won a government tender to employ the guards, reneged on an agreement on working conditions. "Mikud went back on all of its agreements, especially on salary and working hours," Malma said. "These guards work 25-hour shifts and accumulate a lot of hours during a month. And therefore they receive a certain salary. Mikud wanted to reduce their salary, which the guards agreed to. But the guards didn't agree to work for free. Mikud wants them to work two unpaid days a month, this is unheard of." Other disputes center on the company's refusal to cover the guards' extensive travel fees, Malma said. "So far, we've refrained from taking steps because we don't want to, God forbid, endanger ministers. But this has reached an impossible situation, and ministers may well wind up without protection," he said, in response to a question about the likelihood of a strike. Mikud denied the Histadrut's account of the dispute, insisting that it employed the bodyguards in accordance to labor laws and the terms set by its tender. It added that working conditions had been improved. Earlier this month, a scandal erupted over the issue of working conditions for government security guards, after a report surfaced in the media saying that a security guard protecting Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai asked for a coffee break to avoid falling asleep on the job.