Strike continues as talks break down over final point

Garbage piles up on a Jerusalem street Thursday on the second day of the general strike. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—The general strike that began Wednesday seemed about to end in a compromise late Thursday evening, until Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz presented Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini Thursday with a deal-breaking final condition: no more general strikes until 2016.

The strike was called by the Histadrut labor federation over the employment status of contract workers. The Histadrut is seeking full employment rights for contract workers.

Eini told Channel 10 news that the strike would continue into the weekend, pending a breakthrough. A Histadrut source said, however, that there would probably be a hiatus on Friday to allow people to prepare for the Sabbath, and the strike would resume on Sunday.

A Histadrut spokesman said the two sides were about to sign an agreement ending the strike, when Steinitz presented the final paragraph stipulating that a general strike could not be called until 2016. The parties presented their positions to National Labor Court President Judge Nili Arad at 8 p.m. without a resolution.

Judge Arad was reportedly weighing issuing an injunction to end the labor action. At Thursday night’s meeting, the Histadrut told the court that it had signed a collective agreement with the Manufacturers Association on the main issues of the dispute.

The Histadrut also reportedly reached agreement with private employers, represented by the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations. This includes a partial transfer of cleaning workers to direct employment, transfer of contract workers whose jobs are the same as directly employed workers into direct employment, and giving full employment benefits to those who remain as contract workers.

The Finance Ministry reportedly agreed to absorb a small number of contract workers as full time employees and increase salaries and benefits for cleaning workers and social workers.