Some 60,000 Israeli Civil Servants Launch Strike of Indefinite Duration

About 60,000 civil servants went on strike Tuesday in the first of a series of walkouts and work stoppages expected to involve more than 100,000 public sector employees before the end of the week.

The strike was called by the government workers union after wage negotiations with Treasury officials broke down late Monday night.

Union leaders emerging from the fruitless session at midnight said the strike would be of indefinite duration. Originally they had planned a 24-hour warning strike.

About 130,000 academics, technicians and engineers employed by government and public institutions are expected to strike or initiate work stoppages beginning Thursday. Histadrut, the labor federation, already has given notice of a general strike in the public sector in two weeks that would involve some 300,000 employees.

Tuesday’s walkout affected the National Insurance Institute and Employment Service. It halted the state-owned railroad and blacked out educational television, though not regular radio and television broadcasts.

Later in the day, the strike committee gave permission to resume educational television broadcasts.

Clerks in law courts, and the income tax and customs departments were off the job. The Government Press Office worked on a reduced schedule. Knesset employees, following tradition, did not join the strike, but they asked Speaker Shlomo Hillel to announce for the record their solidarity with their fellow government workers.

ISSUING OF PASSPORTS, LICENSES HALTED

Work stoppages Tuesday at the Interior Ministry halted the issuing of passports, identity cards and other official documents. At the Transport Ministry, driver testing had to be suspended. The absence of clerks at the rabbinical courts prevented couples from taking out marriage licenses.

The latest labor strife came on top of the crisis in Israel’s health care system, which has vastly curtailed service at government and Histadrut hospitals during the past few months.

Medical and non-medical employees at the state-run hospitals and those of Kupat Holim, Histadrut’s health care agency, have resorted to slowdowns, walkouts and refusals to perform all but emergency procedures in a running battle with the Treasury on wage-related issues.

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