JERUSALEM (Sep. 28)
Some 700,000 Israelis went on strike for eight hours Sunday on orders of the Histadrut Trade Union to protest privatization plans and pension cuts.
Israel’s National Labor Court gave permission for the strike, which was called after negotiations Saturday night between Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials failed to reach an agreement on a dispute over pension plans.
The previous Labor government had approved a pension plan some three weeks before last year’s national election, but the current government has maintained that it cannot finance a plan that would cost more than $570 million annually over the next 20 years.
Histadrut officials said the strike was also called to protest the government’s ongoing privatization process.
The strike paralyzed all major public services, closing down Israel’s schools, Ben-Gurion Airport, banks and utilities.
More than 1 million students enjoyed an unexpected holiday — but, like other Israelis, they were forced to smell unpleasant odors because garbage workers were nowhere in sight.
After the strike ended, Histadrut Chairman Amir Peretz met again with Finance Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman, after which Histadrut officials decided to give the government “another chance” to resolve the differences.
They said they would not consider another strike until the end of the High Holidays.