Israelis stage general strike for workers without social benefits
A general strike was held in Israel for several hours Monday, with Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv's stock exchange, public transportation, clinics, kindergartens, banks and government offices coming to a standstill.
Israel's federation of trade unions declared the strike in protest of the conditions of some 100,000-150,000 employees, including social workers, teachers, nurses, cleaners, who were hired as "contractors," meaning they are paid a general monthly or hourly fee for their services, with mostly no social benefits, dpa reported.
The country's labour court authorized the strike only from dawn until 10 am (0800 GMT), saying the parties had not negotiated to the fullest.
A relatively short time had passed since the trade union federation had declared a conflict and announced the strike, the court said.
It ordered the federation and the government to continue the negotiations until noon Thursday, before it would decide whether to allow another strike.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday had urged the trade union federation to cancel the strike, estimated to cost the economy around 100 million US dollars a day.
"I believe that it is possible to find a just and responsible solution to the question of contract workers," he told his cabinet. "Just - because we are all aware of the genuine plight of the contract workers. Responsible - because we must bring a solution that will not harm the Israeli economy, at a time that we are witnessing the upheaval of world markets.
"I believe that there is no need to disrupt Israelis' lives or to cause heavy damage to the Israeli economy," he said.