Public Employees Return to Work, but Further Strikes Threatened

More than 450,000 public employees who staged a 24-hour strike Sunday were back at their jobs Monday. But longer work stoppages threatened even as Histadrut accepted Finance Minister Moshe Nissim’s offer to negotiate a new labor contract immediately.

Nissim reportedly is prepared to grant pay increases to low-wage employees and pensionnaires, and even a shorter work week. But some unions wanted the strike to continue until some progress was made toward an overall contract.

The recalcitrant unions held off wildcat strikes only on the promise by Histadrut leadership that the trade union federation would take tough measures if negotiations with the Finance Ministry did not make speedy progress.

Chaim Haberfeld, who heads Histadrut’s Trade Union Department, said he has not yet received a reported promise by Nissim that the Treasury would sign an agreement quickly on condition that a new contract would be of two years’ duration with an undertaking that there would be no strikes in that period. Previous contracts have been for one year.

Haberfeld said Histadrut would consider the offer when it is received. But clerks at the Tel Aviv magistrates court declared a one-day strike Monday morning. They charged that Histadrut officials had ignored their particular demands, which they did not specify.

Meanwhile, public services shut down Sunday were operating. Radio and television broadcasts were resumed and garbage was being collected.

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