More strikes in Israel

Following our report of teachers' and baggage handlers' strikes in Israel at the end of last month, there have been further strikes involving civil servants, bank, university and airport workers this month.

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 25, 2006

Workers were on strike at 25 branches of the First International Bank of Israel at the begining of November over changes since a merger with Bank Otsar Hahayal. They walked out again on the 21st after workers were suspended following accusations that they leaked details of investigations into the newly appointed bank supervisor to the media, this aggravated the ongoing wage dispute.

At Ben Gurion airport, around 500 temporary workers were on strike from the 1st to 7th November after a decision to lay off around 130 temps in late October. Hundreds of flights were disrupted by the action which successfully cost the Airports Authority upto 20 million Shekel. Strikers eventually returned to work after more than one resolution by Labor Court declaring the strike illegal and ordering an immediate return to work, calling it a "savage an unjustified strike". The airports authority agreed to postpone the decision and return to negotiations with the union, and a week later halved the number of redundancies from 130 to 77.

Last week several thousand students and lecturers held a one-hour "warning strike" and protest on the lawn of Tel Aviv university. Professor Ben-Tzion Munitz described the co-ordinated action as a "historic struggle, where for the first time students and faculty are uniting in coordinated protest". Students' and Lecturers' unions have been working together to oppose merit-based pay schemes for teachers and increased tuition for students. The Jerusalem Post stated that student militancy was the highest in recent years, whilst student union leader Itay Shonshine stated the measures amounted to "throwing the students down a stairwell.", and that whilst many students had gone to fought in the Lebanon war without raising questions, "we came back to discover we were irrelevant".

Civil servants held a two-day strike last week, shutting down every government office building, and other services (including weather reports dependent on striking public sector meteorologists!). The strike was over a decision to transfer all bank accounts held by civil servants away from the state Bank Yehav to a private company, expected to cost them an additional 200 shekels per month in fees. They returned to work after the government agreed to an additional three months negotiation over the privatisation.

More information
Israel baggage handlers wildcat strike
Israel: schools on strike