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Israel union goes on strike, court limits scope

Reuters

November 6, 2011 | 11:46 pm

Israel’s main labor union declared a general strike on Monday, shutting down major sectors of the country’s economy, but a labor court intervened issuing an injunction that limited the strike to just four hours, officials said.

The Histadrut Labour Federation, the umbrella organization for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, was looking to strike for as long as it took until an agreement was reached with the government over the status of workers employed through employment agencies.

The union had threatened to shut down Israel’s airports, ports, banks and the stock market indefinitely, but the group’s leaders said they would abide by a court decision to limit the strike to Monday morning. It would end at 10 a.m. (0800 GMT), local media reported.

Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv was supposed to be closed from 8 a.m. the Histadrut had said, leaving just a two hour window for disruptions. Other shutdowns began at 6 a.m. and will end at 10 a.m, following the ruling.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday had called on the Histadrut to cancel the planned strike, which would also include trains, buses, universities, government ministries and municipalities.

Last ditch efforts have failed to find an agreement over the status of contract workers supplied by employment agencies.

The Histadrut wants the government to hire some 250,000 contract workers, who have inferior working conditions than those directly on government payrolls. The Finance Ministry has agreed their employment terms need to improve.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch

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