Netanyahu to mayors: End Local Authorities strike

PM says most demands can be met quickly; Kahlon slams decision to shut down special education institutions.

Trash piles up during Local Authorities strike 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Trash piles up during Local Authorities strike 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the Union of Local Authorities to end their strike that saw municipal services and special education institutions shut down throughout the country Monday. Most of the mayors' demands, Netanyahu said, can be met within a short period of time.
"I call upon [the mayors] to end the strike. Most want to answer my request," he added.
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The prime minister, however, said that Israel will not expand its budget beyond the country's means, noting that 10 countries recently had their Standard and Poors rating lowered. "Ours was raised because of our responsible policies."
The union said it is protesting a recent decision to increase the property tax (arnona) rate against the wishes of municipal authorities, as well as “populist laws and bills” that direct money away from education, student safety, transport, the environment, welfare, culture and pensioners.
The strike included all municipal services including parking inspectors, school buses, garbage collectors, welfare offices, security guards at educational institutions and inspections on meat and fish.
Schools and kindergartens remained open, and the Education Ministry said it would help organize transportation with parents. Special education institutions were not opened.
Minister of Welfare and Social Services Moshe Kahalon sharply criticized the decision to include in the strike schools and services provided for thousands of children with disabilities.
“While I support the freedom for workers to take strike action, children with disabilities should not be part of this game,” said the minister, who was speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem showcasing the various programs and treatments his ministry provides for society’s impoverished and weakest populations.
“It is already hard enough for parents who have children with disabilities and they should not be brought into this battle,” he said, adding that he planned to appeal directly to ULA Chairman Shlomo Bohbot.
If the ULA is not responsive, Kahalon vowed to use the law to fight the decision, which left an estimated 146,000 children with disabilities stranded at home.