Strike disrupts consular services at Israeli missions abroad
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Strike disrupts consular services at Israeli missions abroad

Some 600 supporting workers, but no diplomats, protest Finance Ministry ‘stalling’ on agreement meant to improve employment conditions

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Foreign Ministry workers protesting in Jerusalem on March 24, 2014. The sign reads "Strike here." (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Foreign Ministry workers protesting in Jerusalem on March 24, 2014. The sign reads "Strike here." (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry’s Workers Union called a surprise warning strike on Thursday, disrupting the provision of consular services in several Israeli missions throughout the world.

“Supporting workers at Israel’s delegations in the world are striking today to protest employment conditions,” read a handwritten sign in Hebrew posted at the entrance to the Israeli Consulate-General in New York City. The workers are claiming that the Finance Ministry is “stalling” in its efforts to find a solution to problems with working conditions that have arisen due to a new agreement with the Foreign Ministry, the sign read further. The did not say how long the strike would last.

Some 600 so-called “supporting workers” (not diplomats) are currently striking, making up some 60 percent of the manpower running the Foreign Ministry’s missions abroad, according to the Hadashot TV news.

The Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

The striking employees could seriously disrupt the work of Israel’s diplomatic missions abroad, but major trips by senior officials — such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned visit to New York next month — are currently not in jeopardy, according to diplomatic sources.

Complaining about low remuneration and poor working conditions, Israeli diplomats have striked several times over the last few years. On Thursday, they argued that a deal struck with the Finance Ministry earlier this year has not been upheld.

“The last thing we wanted is to strike,” the union said in a statement.

“Just two days ago a delegation from the union returned to Israel after another round of negotiations that was supposed to have ended the labor dispute. We boarded the plane with the understanding that a solution was found, but the ongoing wrangling between the Finance Ministry and the Foreign Ministry is again being played out at our expense — and this we won’t allow.”

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