National Labor Court Judge Nili Arad has instructed leaders of the Histadrut and Finance Ministry to continue negotiating and to report to her at 1 a.m., at which time she will decide whether or not to allow the strike to continue into a second day.
The latest round of meetings took place this afternoon in Arad’s office. Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Director General Sharon Kedmi arrived at the meeting in place of Minister Shalom Simhon, who was unable to attend. According to Army Radio, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz informed Kedmi that there was no for him to participate in the meeting as Steinitz was already representing the government, so Kedmi left.
The Ynet news website reported that after the meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said that while the sides are still far apart, he hopes that they will make progress in the negotiations and begin finding solutions.
Earlier on Wednesday, Maariv reported that Simhon said that an agreement has been reached to improve the working conditions of contract workers to bring them in line with those of general salaried employees. The deal would not require companies or government offices to permanently hire contract workers.
Eini said the strike would be called off if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approves the agreement.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry voiced opposition to the possible deal. As a way of satisfying the Histadrut’s demands, Steinitz had previously suggested improving some aspects of contract workers’ conditions, but not making them comparable to those of general employees.
Improving the conditions of contract workers is the main demand of the union. In the run-up to the general strike, it had called for the direct hiring of all contract workers by government offices.
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