Israeli union employees strike on behalf of subcontracted workers

Labor strike brings Israel to standstill
Labor strike brings Israel to standstill

    JUST WATCHED

    Labor strike brings Israel to standstill

MUST WATCH

Labor strike brings Israel to standstill 02:47

Story highlights

  • The strike could cost the country over $100 million a week
  • Workers at Israeli airports, hospitals, banks and government ministries are striking
  • The strike will also close the country' stock exchange, railway lines and other services
  • The dispute over subcontracted workers has been building for months

Workers at Israeli airports, hospitals, banks and government ministries began a nationwide strike Wednesday after union and government negotiators were unable to bridge differences over the employment of subcontracted workers.

The strike followed the failure of overnight negotiations between Israel's trade union organization, Histardut, and the ministry of finance.

At issue is the government's employment of thousands of contracted workers in various sectors.

Union officials want to see conditions for these workers improved and for them to be given full employment rights. Israel's finance ministry has said it wants to improve wages and benefits for these workers and but has not agreed to full employment rights as demanded by union officials.

Histardut officials say there up to 400,000 Israelis who work as subcontractors, many paid less and eligible for fewer benefits than regularly employed union members.

The union reached a tentative deal Tuesday with an employers organization to allow for more subcontracted cleaning workers to become regular full time employees, but no agreement could be reached for those workers subcontracted by the government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday night that a strike would not solve the problems of subcontracted workers and that their conditions could be improved "without needing to put the country on strike and disrupt the life of our citizens".

Netanyahu warned of the potential economic cost of the labor action, suggesting the issues could be resolved through continued discussion.

"The Israeli economy is at a sensitive position and this is not the time to jeopardize the stability we have achieved through hard work and cooperation between the government and the labor federation at a time when leading economies around the world have crashed," the prime minister said.

The Israeli Chamber of Commerce has estimated the strike could cost the country over $100 million a week.

The strike will also close the country' stock exchange, railway lines, and halt municipal services like garbage collection.

The dispute over subcontracted workers has been building for months. In November union members staged a half-day nationwide strike over the issue and since that time court ordered negotiations have not been successful in resolving the problem.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.