Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tammuz 5764 - June 30, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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City of Bnei Brak Cancels Dismissal Notices and Continues With Recovery Program
by A. Cohen

Labor relations at the City of Bnei Brak are looking up. After months of tension that began with the recovery program and reached a climax two months ago when the City Council unanimously decided to send dismissal notices to 403 employees, there has been marked improvement following an agreement between the municipality and the Organization of Municipality Clerks' and Workers' Committees in which the two sides pledged to make an effort to achieve a comprehensive recovery program.

City of Bnei Brak Secretary and Spokesman Avrohom Tannenbaum said two months ago the City Council, as part of the budget approval process, unanimously decided to accept Mayor Rabbi Yissochor Frankentahl's proposal for an across-the-board 7 percent budget cut, which would save NIS 40 million ($9 million) and increase revenue by NIS 10 million ($4.5 million).

The decision came in response to the budget deficit and difficulty obtaining bank credit -- the result of the ongoing economic crisis with a concomitant decrease in revenue as well as a drastic cut in government grants during the past two years. The recovery plan included cutbacks both in wages and activities.

Toward the end of May, 403 dismissal notices were mailed to workers, primarily in the field of education since May 31st is the deadline for firing teachers. The need for dismissals was largely the result of constant, drastic budget cuts by the Education Ministry, particularly at "recognized but unofficial" institutions, which constitute the lion's share of City of Bnei Brak educational institutions.

In response to the dismissal notices the Organization of Workers' Committees turned to the Tel Aviv District Labor Court (presumably under rabbinical guidance) to request a restraining order for the dismissal notices. The City prepared a written defense for the upcoming hearing to explain the budget constraints that compelled it to take such action.

Following intensive negotiations between representatives from the recovery plan team and the Workers' Committees an agreement was signed by Mayor Frankentahl, Bnei Brak-Ramat Gan District Union Secretary Ofer Yamin and Municipality Clerks' and Workers' Committee Chairmen Moshe Banda and Shlomo Guri.

According to the agreement since the workers filed a suit in the Tel Aviv Labor Court against the City for the annulment of the 403 dismissal notices the Histadrut, the committees and the City will conduct negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive recovery agreement. Toward this end the sides are to negotiate for a few hours every day, making genuine efforts to reach an accord on cuts in wages and activities in order to bring about an immediate recovery program with complete disclosure and producing the documents needed to execute the recovery program.

It was decided that 85 percent of the dismissal notices would be void and the Union would withdraw its case without asking for court costs. Discussions would be held to consider the remaining 15 percent of workers, applying policies of not employing workers in places that are closing and "last in is the first out."


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