Foreign Ministry employees and Histadrut labor union representatives signed a comprehensive agreement with Finance Ministry officials Sunday evening to increase pay for Israeli diplomats, bringing to an end an almost year-and-a-half labor dispute over working conditions at the government office.
Higher wages were a key demand by the Foreign Ministry workers in a dispute that dragged out for many months and eventually led to a two- week general strike that dragged on from mid-March to early April. The strike brought diplomatic work to a standstill, shutting down the Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem and 103 embassies and consulates worldwide for the first time in Israel’s history.
Sunday’s deal followed an agreement in April, which ended the strike and presented a detailed plan to resolve the working dispute within a number of months.
The agreement included a clause to adjust diplomats’ wages according to the cost of living in the country in which they serve. In addition, a financial plan will partially compensate for a spouse’s loss of career and pension, as well as assist diplomats’ partners in finding employment during their time abroad. The Finance Ministry also agreed to help fund the cost of education for the children of diplomats working abroad.
Ministry employees had claimed they did not make enough money to support themselves in Israel or on international assignments, especially in the more-expensive Western countries. Workers were also bitter at what they claimed were significantly lower wages than comparable positions in the defense and intelligence communities.
In the wake of the March strike, several workers published their payslips in the national media to prove they earn less than the average Israeli salary of about NIS 8,000 ($2,300) a month, including diplomats with over a decade of experience.