Strike averted as Histadrut, Finance Ministry strike deal

Negotiating teams headed by finance minister, Histadrut chairman talk through night; reports say meeting had “positive atmosphere.”

Yuval Steinitz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Yuval Steinitz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Israelis woke up to a strike-free country on Tuesday, after a deal was reached on worker salaries during a late-night meeting between representatives of the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut national labor union.
The Histadrut appears to be the big winner under the new deal, with hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers set to receive a 6.25-percent raise over the next three years, or a 1.78% raise each year. The Histadrut had initially pushed for a 10.5% raise over three years, while the Finance Ministry had at first insisted on no more than 1.5%. Each publicsector worker will also receive a one-time supplement of NIS 2,000 from the government on their November paycheck, regardless of their salary.
The raises will cover all Histadrut workers at the same percentage, regardless of whether they are electrical cooperative employees making NIS 30,000 per month, or municipal garbage workers pulling in barely more than the minimum wage.
For its part, the Finance Ministry managed to avoid the tremendous costs of a general strike, which would have shut down the country’s only international airport and kept all government offices closed.
The deal was reached at 4 a.m. after 12 hours of negotiations at the Finance Ministry offices in Jerusalem. The deal includes no requirements for reform on behalf of the Histadrut, but the Finance Ministry did manage to gain an agreement that the labor federation would not hold any further work stoppages until the end of the biannual budget in December 2012.
Single mothers will receive extra assistance under the new deal, in the form of a NIS 300 monthly supplement for children under the age of five and an additional NIS 200 for a second child of the same age.
In a press conference after the agreement was reached, Steinitz said that the deal showed that “talking and mutual respect is the best way to lead the Israeli economy,” adding that the deal was beneficial to both the Israeli economy and public-sector workers.
At the same press conference, Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said that the deal represented “one of the only times that a salary deal was reached without the necessity for even a single day of strikes.”
Both sides, he said, managed to “reach an agreement that is good for the workers.”