Netanyahu: Planned strike won’t help contract workers
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Netanyahu: Planned strike won’t help contract workers

Unless labor union demands are met, trains, ports and banks will shut down; airport to close for six hours Wednesday.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, right, meeting with Histadrut head Ofer Eini Tuesday. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, right, meeting with Histadrut head Ofer Eini Tuesday. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that a strike planned for the next day would not help the plight of contract workers.

“A strike will not solve the problem of contract workers. It is possible to improve the conditions of contract workers without striking the economy and disrupting citizens’ lives,” Netanyahu said. “There is no magic solution to the employment problems that have been created here over decades; it is possible to resolve the issue through dialogue.”

A general strike is set to take place throughout Israel starting Wednesday, should negotiations between the Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry over the issue of contract workers’ rights and salaries fail to produce results. The sides sat together again Tuesday night, but while participants announced there was progress, no breakthrough had been reached.

If an agreement is not reached by Wednesday, Israel Railways, the country’s ports, local municipalities, government ministries, banks, the Israel Postal Company, universities, museums, and other institutions will go on an indefinite strike. Ben Gurion Airport will be shut down between six a.m. and noon. Hospitals will function according to Shabbat timetables, and buses will continue to run.

“The most important issue is that social justice be achieved,” Eini said at a press conference on Monday afternoon, adding that Israel’s contract workers were its future.

“It’s not the fault of one government or another; the governments of the past twenty years have caused this phenomenon to expand,” he added. “The motive for it can be summed up in one word: money.”

Netanyahu said Tuesday that the economy was too fragile to test it with such a maneuver.

“The Israeli economy is in a delicate situation and now is not the time to risk the stability that we have achieved at great effort and through cooperation between the Government and the Histadrut in the face of the collapse of some of the world’s leading economies,” he said.

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