Complying with court order, Histadrut ends stike

Court permitted strike to take place from 6 to 10 a.m., intensive court-supervised negotiations to continue over 100,000 contract workers.

National Labor Court, general strike_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
National Labor Court, general strike_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A general strike that was expected to bring Israel to a grinding halt Monday was lifted after four hours, in compliance with a last-minute court order.
After an all-night hearing, the National Labor Court issued a temporary order at 6 a.m., allowing the strike to go forward but demanding it end at 10 a.m.
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Most of the public sector shut down during the brief strike, including airports, seaports, mass transportation, local authorities, government offices, hospitals and universities.
National Labor Court President Nili Arad said in the ruling the conflict behind the strike was complex and required more time for negotiations.
According to the ruling, intensive court-supervised negotiations between the Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry will continue. The parties have been ordered to submit a written report to the court by 12 p.m. Thursday regarding their progress.
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz will meet Tuesday morning at Eini’s Tel Aviv office, both sides said in separate statements.
The Histadrut wants the more-than-100,000 cleaners, guards and maintenance staff servicing the public sector as contract workers to be moved into direct employment.
Steinitz and Finance Ministry officials have said they support improving the salaries and work conditions of contract workers, but the Histadrut maintains that only a commitment to move them to direct employment will suffice.
In response to the court’s decision, Eini said: “The fight for contract workers is only beginning. We are determined to continue in order to reduce this phenomenon and we hope the government and employers will use these next few days given to us by the court to conduct intense and real negotiations in order to reach an agreement.”
The Finance Ministry said it respected the court’s decision and was open to resuming negotiations.
The court held the hearing after the Finance Ministry, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations and Union of Local Authorities all sought injunctions against the strike.
Meanwhile, the Knesset Economics Committee will hold an emergency discussion on contract workers on Tuesday.
According to the committee chairman, Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), “the purpose is to examine the economic-financial significance of hiring contract workers, as opposed to the alternative of direct employment.”
He added: “The committee will discuss if there really is a difference that influences the economy [when contract workers are hired], and if that difference is worth the negative price that stains all of us.”
The committee will also attempt to find solutions for the current conflict between the Histadrut and the government.