'Salaries could be paid by end of week'

Finance Ministry, Histadrut resume talks over delayed wages as strike looms.

ofer eini 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ofer eini 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As Histadrut officials expressed their disappointment over Sunday night's meeting between the Histadrut and the Finance Ministry in an attempt to avert the public sector strike slated for Wednesday, talks over the delayed salaries of local council workers were set to resume on Monday. Kobi Haber, head of the Finance Ministry's salaries department, said in an interview with Army Radio on Monday morning that the problem could be solved within the next few days. Haber said that at this point, it was possible to resolve the salary delays for all but nine of the 37 local authorities by the end of the week. "If the considerations are relevant - if the considerations are, 'How can we solve the problem?' - there doesn't have to be a strike," he said. Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On met Sunday night and tried to resolve the issue of the unpaid salaries in local and religious councils in hopes of ending the crisis. However, an official who was present at the meeting said that the solutions proposed by Hirchson and Bar-On were only partial and temporary. The dispute focused on 600 workers, who, according to Finance Ministry forecasts, will not be able to receive their wages until the eve of Pessah. Hirchson said that all religious council employees would receive their salaries within two days. The talks may continue until Tuesday night. Histadrut officials said over the weekend that some 5,500 workers in 37 local councils and 18 religious councils had not received their salaries for the month of February. Eini told reporters prior to Sunday's meeting at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem that if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not fulfill his duty to the public, there would be "no choice but to hold a strike this Wednesday."