The public sector general strike began Wednesday morning after last minute talks between the Histadrut and the Finance and Interior Ministries broke down. The National Labor Court had postponed the strike until 9 a.m. to allow more time to solve the crisis of unpaid local and religious council workers.It is interesting that Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh blames the government, and not the Histadrut for the present strike:
Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said that he had worked hard to reach a solution so that all public sector workers would receive their salaries, adding that the Histadrut had even agreed to distribute loans to workers in the more problematic local authorities on condition that employees in all other municipalities got paid.
"We were close to an agreement but the government ministries changed their minds," Eini told reporters outside the court.
"Starting at 9.a.m. a public sector general strike will commence, on the same scale that we planned yesterday," he said.
Eini said that the strike would be open ended and that it would continue as long as the government ministries fail to come up with a solution to the crisis of the unpaid public sector employees.
Brosh laid the blame for the impending strike squarely at the feet of the government: "Whatever is possible to resolve today was possible to resolve four months ago. [Withheld public sector wages] is a problem that must not become part of accepted behavioral norms. ...The government must see to it that this disgrace does not repeat itself in the future. Even if [the government] pays the money today, what will happen on April 1st? ...I call on the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister and the Finance Minister to drop everything they are doing and solve this problem today. Gentlemen, such behavior by the government cannot go on...."