Municipalities close doors as unions hold one-day strike
Avnat: "Situation has become unbearable. Local authorities on the brink of collapse. If situation isn’t resolved, won’t be able to pay salaries.”
By BEN HARTMAN
Municipal services came to a halt across the country on Tuesday, as the Union of Local Authorities in Israel called a one-day warning strike to protest what it calls a breakdown in negotiations with the government.The school system was not affected, but all other municipal services, including sanitation, parking enforcement, and welfare services were shut down in all cities except Jerusalem, where the strike was not held because of security concerns.RELATED:Ben Gurion Airport employees' strike ends after 8 hoursGush Shalom blames Israeli leaders for Dutch rejectionHundreds of protesters demonstrated at traffic junctions across the country, waving signs and in many cases preventing the flow of traffic.The dispute stems from local authorities’ request that the government return some NIS 600 million in budget cuts and NIS 500m. in school funding that has been slashed nationwide.On Monday, the union issued a statement saying that national budget for local authorities in 2002 was NIS 3.4 billion, and that instead of rising over the past six years, it was set at NIS 2.4b. for the current year.AdvertisementUnion member Romi Avnat, who organized the protest at the Yad Mordechai junction on Tuesday, called the demonstration “a great success,” in that it brought together several dozen leaders of western Negev local authorities who stood together and stopped traffic at the busy junction for several short intervals.Avnat said the protest, like the strike, was held because “the situation we are in has become unbearable. Local authorities are on the brink of collapse. If the situation isn’t resolved, we won’t be able to pay salaries.”The union has future actions planned, including a protest outside the Knesset next Tuesday.Leaders have vowed that if situation is not solved, they will call a general strike that won’t be limited to a single day.A spokesman from the Finance Ministry said Tuesday that “we have met all of our obligations under the agreements we have signed with the union. This strike was a bizarre and unnecessary blow to the quality of life.”
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