Offices, Services Affected by Wave of Labor Actions

YERUSHALAYIM -
Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissankorn (L) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (R) seen withduring a press conference on December 9, 2015. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissankorn (L.) and Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon (R.) seen during a press conference in Dec. 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A wave of labor actions Sunday will shut down activities in courts, tax offices and government offices, as workers protest attempts by the government to reduce costs and outsource services. A strike by road test examiners is entering its third week, as examiners continue protesting the Transport Ministry’s plan to authorize private companies to test drivers for their readiness for the road. Several weeks ago, the Ministry advertised a tender to license private groups to test prospective drivers on their on-road skills.

The tests would be given by driving school teachers, with whom prospective drivers already work. To get a license, students must take a minimum number of lessons (between 3 and 19, depending on age and background), and the Ministry wants to grant the teachers who give those lessons the ability to test students as well. The current Ministry-employed examiners see this as a back-door attempt to replace them with private-sector service providers.

Continuing to assist the examiners in their labor struggle are workers at Israel’s licensing bureaus, who process and issue licenses to drivers of both private and commercial vehicles. They will be conducting business “erratically,” a spokesperson for the union representing workers said. This means that a bureau could open and close at any time. Calling up for hours is unlikely to help, as the decision to shut down an operating licensing bureau could be made spontaneously, the official said.

Also striking are workers in the government database department, which supplies data to the Tax Authority about outstanding taxes and debts. As a result, tax collections will be suspended until further notice, as information on who owes what will not be forthcoming.

In addition, branches of the National Insurance Institute will be closed Sunday, as workers protest a lack of security in the offices. Police decided last week to redeploy officers who have in the past been assigned to the offices to provide protection. Police say that there is no need for officers to be stationed at the offices, as the job could be done by private security guards.

Welfare Minister Chaim Katz has appealed to the Attorney General to allow police to continue stationing officers at the branches temporarily, until private security guards can be hired, in order to prevent the work action.