TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
Thousands of public employees staged a two-hour work stoppage Wednesday morning called by Histadrut because it said bargaining with the government over wage increases was deadlocked.
Histadrut has called for a day-long work stoppage this Sunday, and a general strike is in the offing if no new Labor contract is reached. Histadrut did not label Wednesday’s action a “strike” but rather a two-hour break for discussions between workers and trade union officials. Most of the civil servants who did not report to their jobs at 8 a.m. took a two-hour “holiday” instead.
The stoppage affected the railroad system, courts, hospitals, the post offices and other public sectors. It followed a tense meeting Tuesday night between Histadrut Secretary General Yisrael Kessar and Finance Minister Moshe Nissim.
Nissim had declared earlier there would be no across-the-board wage increases or a shorter work week, demanded by Histadrut. Hillel Dudai, the Treasury’s chief negotiator, told reporters that Nissim would make no new offers and totally rejects Histadrut’s demands.
Kessar said he attended the meeting only out of respect for the Finance Minister. He said Histadrut would withdraw from negotiations if no progress is made, leaving the Treasury to negotiate separately with each of more than a dozen public employees unions.