Government looking to end Dimona nuclear scientist strike
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Government looking to end Dimona nuclear scientist strike

Cabinet reportedly to approve ordinance ordering workers at top secret facility to continue carrying out essential work

This photo taken on September 8, 2002, shows a partial view of the Dimona nuclear power plant in the southern Israeli Negev desert. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
This photo taken on September 8, 2002, shows a partial view of the Dimona nuclear power plant in the southern Israeli Negev desert. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The cabinet was set to approve Sunday an emergency ordinance that would allow the government to end an ongoing strike by scientists at the top secret Dimona nuclear reactor, the Haaretz daily reported.

During the strike, which reportedly began in February amid negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, scientists have held up development plans, refused to grant safety licenses and have even ceased operating an essential piece of machinery, according to the report Sunday.

The proposed ordinance, which is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would include an injunction authorizing the head of the Atomic Energy Commission and site managers to order their employees to continue essential work despite the strike.

Employees who refuse could be fired. Others could have their salaries cut and would be forbidden from quitting while the injunction is in effect.

However, a note attached to the emergency ordinance said that “the injunctions will be issued sparingly, minimally and proportionately in order to prevent heavy damage to the interests of the state,” Haaretz said.

Shlomit Barnea-Farago attends an award ceremony in Jerusalem on December 4, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shlomit Barnea-Farago attends an award ceremony in Jerusalem on December 4, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shlomit Barnea-Farago, the legal counselor at the Prime Minister’s Office, said that while the ordinance was a “drastic step,” it was “reasonable” in light of the potential damage “to the state’s essential interests.”

In a letter to government ministers, the head of the scientists’ committee called on the cabinet to block the ordinance, calling it “insulting and unnecessary.”

“There is no body more responsible for the safety of these facilities than our scientists,” he said, adding that essential work has continued during the partial strike.

He also said that workers have been waiting eight years for a new collective bargaining agreement and had only begun to protest during the past six months, according to Haaretz.

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