Sunday, November 6, 2011
Israel strike to shut airports, economy on Monday
· El Al Israel Airlines logos are seen on electronic boards at check-in counters at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv August 22, 2011.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's main labour union plans a strike that would shut airports, ports, banks and the stock market starting on Monday after talks with the government failed to produce an agreement over the status of workers employed through labour contractors.
The Histadrut Labour Federation, the umbrella organisation for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, said the strike would begin at 0600 (0400 GMT) on Monday and would also include trains, buses, universities, government ministries and municipalities.
Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv will close at 0800 local time.
"The strike will be unlimited and only a court injunction will prevent it," Ofer Eini, the head of the Histadrut, told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday.
The Histadrut wants the government to hire some 250,000 contract workers, who have inferior working conditions than civil workers directly on government payrolls.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Histadrut to cancel the planned strike, which would wreak havoc on travellers and commuters.
"I believe it is possible to find a responsible and just solution for the issue of temporary laborers (supplied by employment agencies)," Netanyahu said on Army Radio.
"We must bring a solution that will not harm the Israeli economy at a time when there is a global shake-up in all the world's economies," he said. "There is no need to disrupt the lives of Israelis. We must not risk what we have achieved with much work."
Talks over the weekend failed to find an agreement, although Finance Ministry officials agreed that employment terms of contract workers need to improve.
Israel's labour court is expected to decide whether to issue an injunction against a strike later on Sunday.
A strike would cause hundreds of millions of shekels of damage a day to the economy.