Labor federation makes move toward public sector strike over pension cuts

Teachers, government ministry and hospital staff could all walk out in 2 weeks after Histadrut declares official dispute over reduction in payments to retirees

Arnon Bar-David speaks to members of the Histadrut labor organization, March 29, 2019 (Screen grab via Facebook)
Arnon Bar-David speaks to members of the Histadrut labor organization, March 29, 2019 (Screen grab via Facebook)

The Histadrut labor federation on Sunday declared a work dispute over expected cuts to pensions.

Union members from government ministries and government hospitals and teachers could all walk out to protest the reduction in payments for retirees.

A declaration of a labor dispute is a warning that must be given to employers, as well as to the chief supervisor of labor relations at the Labor Ministry, at least 15 days ahead of the commencement of a strike. During this cooling-off period, both sides may be brought to the table for mediation.

According to the Globes financial newspaper, the conflict began in the wake of the Finance Ministry’s decision to cut the benefits of hundreds of thousands of members of older pension funds, starting July 1. The cut, at a rate of 1.259 percent, is a significant sum of money for those dependent on the pensions.

Foreign Ministry workers protest outside the ministry’s offices in Jerusalem on March 24, 2014. The sign reads ‘Here there is a strike.’ (Meital Cohen/Flash90)

Arnon Bar-David, head of the Histadrut, said the organization would stand its ground to protect retirees.

“We will not be fooled by false promises. We must not harm the pensioners,” Bar-David said in a statement.

“We wanted to avoid declaring the conflict, but apparently things in Israel are not going as smoothly as they are reflected in the media,” the chairman continued. “The threat has not yet been lifted and we have not received approval for a six-month postponement of the cut, which is the most obvious and logical thing to do now. We have no choice but to declare a labor dispute.”

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