Labor Dispute Disrupts Diplomacy

YERUSHALAYIM -

A two-week-old labor dispute in the Foreign Ministry has begun to disrupt Israel’s diplomatic communications system, Haaretz reported.

The 1,200-strong ministry staff expanded their labor sanctions last Thursday by curtailing the use of diplomatic cables, disrupting communications between diplomatic missions abroad and the headquarters in Yerushalayim.

A ministry spokesman called it “an important fight over the ministry’s place in the government and the conditions of service of diplomats, which has declined in recent years.”

As the dispute entered its third week, ministry sources said the outstanding issues remain: deteriorated terms of employment of diplomats serving abroad, their claim that the Foreign Ministry’s status has been harmed by the separate appointment of Yuval Steinitz as minister of international relations, alleged delays in promotions, lack of transparency in appointment committees, and procedural irregularities in the appointment of some diplomatic personnel.

Another point of contention is the policy of wages being set unilaterally by the Finance Ministry’s wage division. Ministry employees want to be able to negotiate their salaries.

Previous sanctions in the dispute have included refusal to grant consular services to government ministries and refusal to provide diplomatic passports for cabinet members.

The workers’ committee is warning of further sanctions.