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Labor union threatens general strike over minimum wage

Histadrut irked at dismal salaries and continued use of contracted employment for cleaning services

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chairman of the powerful Histadrut labor union said on Saturday night that he intends to declare a general strike on Tuesday in protest at the low minimum wage and the continued widespread use of temporary workers for cleaning and security services.

Chairman Avi Nissenkorn listed his grievances in a statement as “the disgrace of the minimum wage in Israel, the worrying spread of the phenomenon of contracted workers, and the contempt by the state in not implementing an order regarding the expansion of employing disabled people in the civil service.”

Following the planned declaration, there would be a two-week grace period before Nissenkorn could put the strike into action.

Yossi Wasserman, chairman of the teachers union, said he supports the decision and that should the strike go ahead, his union would join the action, shutting down educational institutes.

Other sectors that could be affected include garbage collection in local authorities, freight handling at docks and airports, and public reception services at government offices.

“All efforts to talk to the government have failed,” Nissenkorn said. “I suggest the government ministers try and live on NIS 4,300 ($1,126) for just one month.”

The last time the Histadrut called a general strike was in 2012 in a bid to force limits on the use of contract workers for general services.

At the time there was an agreement with the Treasury to have cleaners and security workers be made full workers and not remain contractors, but the Treasury has been stalling over implementing the conditions, Channel 2 reported.

Since then, raising the minimum wage has also become a priority for the Histadrut.

Recent meetings with the Finance Ministry resulted in an agreement that the wage be raised, but by how much remains a point of contention.

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