Unions to launch strike unless Olmert intervenes

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Histadrut Labor Federation leader Ofer Eini (photo) and Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office Ra'anan Dinur were set to continue talks on Tuesday in an attempt to settle the dispute of unpaid salaries before the labor union prepares for a general public-sector strike on Wednesday.

Eini said a strike is likely unless the prime minister intervenes and personally solves the problem.

“If the prime minister does not get involved, we will have no choice but to take widespread strike action on Wednesday,” said Eini. “To completely avert it, the prime minister would need to hold an emergency meeting to approve the immediate transfers of funds to 40 local authorities and 16 religious councils, which have not been able to pay their workers for months.”

Secondary schools were open on Tuesday even thought teachers began striking last week. School officials are slated to meet with the Finance Ministry in an attempt to resolve the unpaid salaries issue.

Olmert met with members from the Interior Ministry and the Finance Ministry late on Monday, urging them to find ways to avert the strike.

A general public-sector strike would cost the economy more than $100 million a day, not including banking, health and electricity.

“The Histadrut has no reason to go on strike,” said Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson. “We are doing everything we can to solve the problem, and we have already managed to reduce the number of local authorities that are not paying salaries from 40 to 30.”

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