Foreign Ministry workers sanctions frozen for 45 days to give mediator a chance

In return for suspension of sanctions, Finance Minister will halt plan to deduct 25% from workers' upcoming salaries.

Foreign Ministry workers demonstrate 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Foreign Ministry workers demonstrate 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Foreign Ministry’s workers agreed Wednesday to suspend their five-monthold work sanctions following an agreement with the Finance Ministry to appoint an agreed-upon mediator to end the crisis.
The Finance Ministry, in return for the decision to temporarily suspend the sanctions to give the mediator a chance, will not – as planned – deduct 25 percent from the workers’ upcoming salaries because of the sanctions.
The decision came during a discussion on the fivemonths- old labor dispute in the Jerusalem Labor Court.
In order for the deal to go into effect, the two sides have to agree on a mediator by 2 p.m. on Thursday. The ministry workers want retired labor court judge Steve Adler to deal with the case.
Jerusalem Labor Court Judge Dita Pruginin ordered the sides to inform the court of progress on the mediation efforts by September 15.
The sanctions, which have crippled the ministry’s dayto- day dealings, ranged from stopping consular services to refusing to handle the logistics for incoming visitors or ministerial trips abroad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin welcomed the end of the sanctions and the agreement to go to mediation, saying: “I hope that this will end, for a long time, hardships for citizens, and that the Foreign Ministry can return to full work, because the sanctions severely harmed the ministry’s work.”
He said that the struggle for a reasonable agreement will continue, but this ensures that it won’t be done on the backs of average citizens unable to receive consular services. The workers are demanding better work conditions and a salary increase.
One of the most recent casualties of the strike was 18 groups of high school students whose Holocauststudy trips to Poland in the coming weeks were cast into doubt because the Foreign Ministry would not issue diplomatic passports and arrange for weapons licenses for Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) guards to accompany them.
Those groups are now expected to go ahead as planned.
Foreign Ministry officials claim, however, that the groups could have traveled to Poland even prior to this agreement, and that there were plenty of other Shin Bet guards with the necessary paperwork to accompany the groups.
According to these officials, the Shin Bet was not being cooperative in order to “get back” at the Foreign Ministry for holding a firstof- its-kind protest outside its headquarters earlier this summer.
The protest came following the Foreign Ministry workers’ claims that the Shin Bet was undercutting their work sanctions by providing services to the prime minister for his trips abroad – something the ministry’s workers refused to do because of their sanctions.