Israel: Strike On, Strike Off

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 21/03/2007 - 19:40

There I was, about to post the report (copied at the end) of a forthcoming general strike in Israel. But before I managed to do so, it's been called off.

Shame, cos I thought letting the England team in but not its fans was one of the most imaginative ways I've come across of giving yourself an unfair advantage in a football match.


Israel gripped by general strike

There is no date set for the strike to end
Israel's main trade union has launched an open-ended general strike which threatens to bring transport and public services across the country to a halt.
Flights at Israel's only international airport, Tel Aviv, were cancelled as the strike came into force at 0900 (0700 GMT) after talks failed.
The stoppage was called by the powerful Histadrut union over local authorities failing to pay workers' salaries.
The action affects government offices, firefighters, buses and railways.
Approximately 400,000 workers are thought to take part in the strike.
In the past, such strikes have effectively brought normal business in Israel to a halt, with rubbish piling up in the streets and phone and electricity services stopped.
Paralysed economy
Israeli media reports that the national labour court is convening to consider a government request that it issue restraining orders which could end the strike
Speaking ahead of the stoppage, Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson said workers would be paid in the next two weeks, so there was "no reason to paralyse the economy".
The strike will continue until all civil servants receive their wages
The union says about 3,500 workers have not been paid for months.
They are employed by local authorities in Israel, but under Israeli law the country's Interior Ministry is ultimately responsible.
Israel has struggled for years with malfunctions in a number of its municipalities. There have been allegations of the mismanagement of funds, cronyism and in some cases embezzlement
BBC Jerusalem correspondent Katya Adler says that Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is in an awkward position with no appetite for further political fights.
His current popularity rating is three percent. Members of his own cabinet have also faced been allegations of corruption, some cases touching the prime minister himself.
Football concession
The strike had been due to begin at 0600 but was pushed back by three hours as government officials and trade union chiefs made a last ditch effort to hammer out a deal, but when those talks collapsed the union decided to press ahead.
However, union leaders decided to make one exception to the strike - airport workers will be back on duty on Thursday evening for a single incoming flight - carrying the England football team.
They are due to play Israel in a Euro 2008 qualifying match on Saturday.
Union boss Ofer Eini said he did not want the stoppage to spoil the football match, or Israel's chance of advancing in the competition, so a flight carrying the England team and match officials would be allowed to land.
Flights scheduled to bring England fans, however, will not.

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