Israeli Court Limits General Strike to Four Hours

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Following an all-night session, the National Labor Court issued an order Monday morning limiting a general strike threatening to shut down the country to four hours -- from 6 to 10 a.m.

Notwithstanding, the court will oversee ongoing negotiations between Israel's national labor union, the Histadrut, and the Finance Ministry.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to the Histadrut to cancel the strike, saying that damaging the nation's economy was not the way to find a "just and responsible solution" for contract workers.

"I believe it's possible to find a just and responsible solution to the issue of contract workers…that will not hurt Israel's economy," Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday morning, saying the government and the Histadrut "see eye to eye" on workers' welfare.

Had it not been nipped in the bud, the general strike would have shut down all modes of public transportation, banks, post offices, government offices, the stock market, seaports, Ben Gurion airport, universities, and sanitation services. 

Histadrut head Ofer Eini said Thursday that a general strike was necessary to force the government to move an estimated 100,000 public sector cleaning and maintenance workers from contract to direct employment.

"We shall honor the court's decision and stop the strike at 10 a.m., but we shall continue to fight for contract workers," Eini said Monday. "We hope the Finance Ministry changes its position during the negotiations."

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