Many government and public-sector employees find it difficult to transition from their routine stonewalling of citizens to the stonewalling that takes place as part of a strike.
Jerusalem, December 20 – A strike among public-sector workers entered its fourth day today, but the public has not caught on because there appears to be no noticeable difference between the current availability of those workers and their availability on any other day.
Citizens lined up at the entrance to the Ministry of the Interior facility on Shlomtzion Street in the capital displayed no knowledge this morning that a work stoppage was in effect, as their inability to enter the reception area seemed identical to the situation when no such stoppage was taking place. Similar scenes developed around the country at National Insurance offices, public health care facilities, government ministries, and other public-sector institutions that typically handle large numbers of visitors seeking documentation or approval for procedures.
“Yeah, it’s like this every day,” lamented a visitor to a National Insurance branch in the southern coastal city of Ashdod. “You come here, you wait forever, and maybe, if the stars align just so, you get in that day. I guess today isn’t that day.” He betrayed no knowledge of a strike.
Some visitors had heard reports public sector workers were striking, but reported they were unable to confirm the reports firsthand. “I read it online somewhere, yeah,” recalled a visitor to a Kupat Holim Klalit clinic in Beersheva. “But you never know with these reports – quite often the strike is called off at the last minute when an agreement is reached, and the strike wasn’t the issue so much as the threat of a strike was. I’ve been waiting to get inside and take a number since six-thirty this morning, and it’s only ten-thirty now, which is about par for the course. Maybe in a couple of hours I’ll be able to discern whether there’s a strike going on. Stay tuned, I guess.”
Two factors compound the confusion, according to experts. “Some, but not all, sectors of the public are striking,” noted Avi Nissencoreleone, director of the Histadrut, the country’s largest labor union and a major force behind the current strike. “Public transportation is still operating, for example. So some people might not feel the impact as much as others do. Also, many government and public-sector employees find it difficult to transition from their routine stonewalling of citizens to the stonewalling that takes place as part of a strike. We’re probably seeing some of the impact of those difficulties.”
Similar episodes took place last year, when workers in the mail sorting and delivery departments of the Postal Authority went on strike, but no one noticed.
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