2014
12/29

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Finance

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Histadrut, Finance Ministry ink minimum wage deal

The Histadrut labor federation and Finance Ministry agreed to a minimum wage deal Sunday along the lines of an agreement the Histadrut struck with private sector leaders earlier in the month before elections were called.

The agreement, which will raise the minimum wage to NIS 5,000 over two years, will still need to pass muster with Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, who said last week that some parts of a minimum wage deal could not move forward in the run-up to elections.

The earlier part of the deal came together as the governing coalition fell apart in early December, stopping negotiations with then-finance minister Yair Lapid over the public sector portion of a minimum wage hike. Since then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to push the deal through, with loud voices of support from opposition parties, even as they accused him of populist election-time politics.

Without an official finance minister in place (Netanyahu holds the portfolio since firing Lapid), Sundays talks were held between Finance Ministry officials Yael Andorn, Koby Amsalem and Amir Levy and Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn.

The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce warned that increasing the minimum wage without giving breaks to small businesses would be an irresponsible and dangerous action.

The cabinet and Knesset must still approve a minimum wage bill in order for it to become law.

The Histadrut, which had threatened a general strike that would have shut down ports, schools, transportation and government services, backed down from its initial target of a NIS 5,300 minimum wage in the earlier talks.

Nissenkorn said the move was part of an effort to help 700,000 Israelis who rely on minimum wage salaries, and said his group was committed to reducing inequality.

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