Mortgage Officers Set to Strike at First International

YERUSHALAYIM -
The dispute at First International comes against a backdrop of a booming mortgage market. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
The dispute at First International comes against a backdrop of a booming mortgage market. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The First International Bank of Israel faces a strike of employees in the mortgage department next week, Globes reported.

The union warned the public of a prolonged dispute and possible crippling of the bank’s services.

“We know that homebuyers are locked in a timetable, which is why we are calling them to hurry to complete procedures as soon as possible, because lengthy sanctions are expected soon, which will make it difficult to obtain service. Even if service is provided, it will only be partial,” the bank’s workers committee, headed by Hanoch Livneh, said on Monday.

Four months ago, a labor dispute was declared between First International Bank’s workers committee and management, headed by CEO Smadar Barber-Zadik. At issue:  the workload and a demand to increase staff at bank branches.

Until now, work sanctions have been limited to a few hours at certain branches, and a one-day strike in all branches. But now they’re contemplating a shutdown of an entire division, and for an indefinite period.

The dispute comes against a backdrop of a booming mortgage market, with borrowers taking NIS 4-5 billion a month in new mortgages. First International Bank grants NIS 4 billion in mortgages a year. The bank’s portfolio totals NIS 16 billion, and it has a 7% share of the market.

A strike of the mortgage division could cause the bank serious losses. For unlike other activities, in which the customer is trapped at the bank, there is keen competition in mortgages. A customer who cannot get a mortgage at First International Bank can turn to another bank instead.

First International Bank managers, who account for a third of its workforce, are expected to step in and keep the mortgage division going, but the strike will cause serious disruptions.