General strike continues after overnight talks fail

Treasury and Histadrut representatives talk through the night with no results; basic services remain closed; Egged and Dan buses join strike but trains resume, Ben-Gurion Airport to operate.

Demonstration in front of Labor Court 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Demonstration in front of Labor Court 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Litter continued to pile up Sunday morning as the general strike continued into its fifth day, after Histadrut and Treasury representatives failed to reach an agreement overnight regarding the employment of contract workers.
Parties are expected to update Judge Nili Arad, National Labor Court president at 10 a.m. with detailed written arguments on the progress of the talks between them. The court will then decide whether to issue a fresh injunction to terminate the strike
Representatives for the Histadrut and the Finance Ministry met in Jerusalem at 9 p.m. Saturday in an effort to reach an agreement and talked through the night, but produced no results.
Arad ruled late Thursday night that the strike could continue, but that Ben-Gurion Airport and all ports must operate as usual. In her ruling, Arad said that both sides reported making “real progress” in their negotiations, but added that several differences still needed to be resolved.
The open-ended general strike began Wednesday at 6 a.m., shutting down basic services including government offices, banks, trains and institutes of higher education.
Egged and Dan buses, which have operated as usual until now, will join the strike today.
However, trains will resume operations. Buses transporting IDF soldiers from train stations to their bases will operate as usual.
Arad said that in the light of the sincere efforts made by both sides, they should continue to work toward a peaceable end to the conflict. She lifted a three-month injunction on the strike the previous week, saying that there was no choice but to declare that negotiations over the employment status of contract workers had reached a deadlock.
Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz spent most of Thursday locked in direct discussion, but two stumbling blocks remained. One was Eini’s demand that contract workers, whose jobs mirror those of directly-employed workers, also be transferred into direct employment. The other was Steinitz’s demand that the Histadrut promise not to declare another industrial dispute for at least four years.
Steinitz has apparently already agreed to Eini’s other demands, including the transfer of some cleaning workers to direct employment, and an increase in the minimum wage from NIS 4,100 to NIS 4,500.
Nadav Shemer and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report