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Cablegate: Muted National Strike in Israel Called Off In

VZCZCXRO3755
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #0907 0821157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231157Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0184
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000907

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB IS PGOV
SUBJECT: MUTED NATIONAL STRIKE IN ISRAEL CALLED OFF IN
FIRST DAY

REF: A) 2006 TEL AVIV 4695 B) 2007 TEL AVIV 835 -

NOTAL C) 2007 TEL AVIV 866

1. (SBU) The national labor congress Histadrut called off
Israel's national strike March 21, less than 24 hours after
it began. Numerous public services expected to join the
strike did not, and the "land, sea, and air" shutdown that
Histadrut contacts had predicted to Labor Reporting Officer
was full of exceptions during the short-lived walkout. The
quick settlement allowed thousands of free-spending British
soccer fans to arrive for a Euro 2008 qualifying match, and
some pundits noted that PM Olmert and many Histadrut members
are, coincidentally, huge soccer fans. Anger remains that
many municipal authority heads responsible for the crisis
still remain in office, and it remains unclear how local
authorities beset by economic downturns, mismanagement, and
corruption will meet future payrolls.

2. (SBU) The media reported Olmert complained that Histadrut
chairman Eini had become "enamored with this drama" and that
Histadrut had no reason to strike. Government officials were
quoted as saying that the Government and Histadrut had
essentially reached a deal before the strike began that
included full payments of missing salaries to all municipal
employees, except for a few "problematic" municipalities that
had more complex legal issues to resolve. Yedioth Ahronoth,
the most widely circulated tabloid in Israel, reported that
sources in the Prime Minister's Office believe Eini was
forced to stop the strike after learning that he had lost the
support of the Labor Court and was in danger of being in
contempt of court. Press reports had quoted Eini as blaming
the government for "changing their minds" when they were
close to an agreement. Both sides reached agreement the
afternoon of March 21, and Israeli public sector employees,
including transportation sector workers, returned to work on
March 22.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
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JONES

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