Israeli General Strike Forces Banks, Ports Shut for Second Day

A strike by Israel’s largest labor federation forced banks, ports and the stock exchange to close for a second day as talks to end the stalemate were extended.

The Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor union are still negotiating over the status of contract workers and may be on the verge of an agreement that will end the strike, Israel Radio reported. The National Labor Court allowed the parties to keep talking beyond a 1 a.m. deadline set yesterday, and has yet to intervene in the labor action.

Histadrut estimates that 250,000 Israelis employed through contractors receive on average about 30 percent less pay than comparable workers employed directly. It says it wants the government to take stronger measures to have them hired directly so they receive higher wages and benefits.

Ben-Gurion International Airport will again be shut for the first six hours of the strike starting at 6 a.m., which involves 500,000 workers and started yesterday. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (EPRX) and the Bank of Israel will also be closed again if an agreement isn’t reached this morning, and the court allows the strike to continue.

Histadrut said yesterday it reached an accord with private- industry groups to ensure that contract workers will get equivalent conditions to salaried employees. An end to the strike will depend on the government accepting those terms, it said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net; Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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