A letter written on Tuesday by more than 100 Israeli consuls and ambassadors stated that unless the longstanding labor dispute within the Foreign Ministry is resolved, the diplomats all over the world may go on strike. The ambassadors told Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that the longer the dispute is left unresolved, it will hamper the work in Israeli missions quite seriously. They warned that the labor dispute has been ongoing for six months and there hasn’t been a resolution as yet. If it continues, the Foreign Ministry would go on strike. According to the diplomats, they want to continue working for the country abroad in the same professional manner as they have done previously.
However, they said that it was the Finance Ministry bureaucrats who were the problem because they were taking them for granted. They said that the Foreign Ministry workers have become frustrated and bitter and this will lead to both personal and economic harm. They said that the rights of the emissaries working abroad have been severely damaged and workers of the Foreign Ministry are discriminated against. They have further stated that the emissaries do not receive any pay for working overtime, or even on-call hours. They are not given any promotions and no considerations are made for their families and spouses.
They have also stated that the labor conditions for the staff, such as security staff, need improvement. In the last six months, several steps have been taken by the Foreign Ministry Workers Union in consulates and embassies abroad for protesting about the working conditions. New passports are no longer issued to Israelis in Miami, Australia, France, Germany and New York because they have used up their entire supply of passport books and the consulates and embassies have refused to order new ones. Likewise, the Foreign Ministry also stopped issuing visas to people from Nepal, India and Philippines, who want to work in the agricultural and nursing industry.
Moreover, consular workers are also not registering babies born via surrogacy to Israeli families in countries that are popular for the process, such as Georgia, Colombia and the United States. In addition, cabinet ministers have to deal with planning of abroad trips on their own and also schedule meetings with foreign counterparts the same way. In recent months, the ministry and the union have been embroiled in a labor dispute because of working conditions and a reduction in pay. There is no overtime pay given, even though workers in different time zones are required to work on local time as well.
Many of the workers have to be available 24 hours, but they are only paid for 2 such ‘on call’ days. The union had ordered the workers back in January to stop working after regular hours. There have been continuous cuts in the Foreign Ministry’s budget that was highlighted in a report in 2020. The budget was reduced to NIS 1.385 billion, even though the total expenses were NIS 1.53 billion. On average, government ministries saw their budget increased by 5.7% from 2018 to 2019, but there was a 14.7% drop in the budget of the Foreign Ministry.