Itongadol/AJN.- The workers have been engaged in a dispute for better wages and conditions for over a year, relaunching sanctions last week when mediation efforts failed.
The Foreign Ministry workers decided Monday to step up their already crippling work sanctions, and cut off all contact with ministry director-general Nissim Ben-Sheetrit.
A statement put out after a meeting of the ministry workers said the steps against Ben-Sheetrit come because of his attempts to "break the sanctions." The statement also said that some workers were calling to escalate the sanctions into a full-blown strike.
The workers have been engaged in a work dispute for better wages and conditions for more than a year and relaunched sanctions last week when mediation efforts exploded after they rejected an offer from the Treasury. While the workers dismissed the offer as an embarrassment, the Treasury said it answered key demands – such as ways to compensate spouses of diplomats who give up careers and lose pension benefits when following their husbands or wives abroad – but that it was not going to agree to demands for across the board wage increases.
As the sanctions continue, one ministry official said that the workers were now bracing for counter measures by the Treasury to break the sanctions.
Among the sanction the workers have taken since last week include stopping the provision of consular services, issuing diplomatic passports, and providing logistical support for trips abroad by Israeli officials, or visits to Israel by leaders from abroad.
The sanctions are putting a crimp on efforts to plan for Pope Francis\’ scheduled visit here in May. A Vatican advance team is scheduled in the region later this week, but Foreign Ministry officials said that the team will visit Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, where the Pope will also travel during his tour, but skip over Israel.
A Vatican representative in Jerusalem would not comment on the matter, saying the advance team\’s itinerary is not public.