Strike ends, consular and visa services resume

3 Apr 14

ISRAEL

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Workers in the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs have ended a month-long strike.

What does the change mean? Israel is reopening its foreign diplomatic missions abroad, as well as its headquarters in Jerusalem.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visa processing and consular services.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals processing through an Israeli consular post.
  • Impact on processing times: Significant delays due to backlogs.
  • Business impact: Processing should return to normal once backlogs are cleared.

Background: For the past seven months, the Ministry and its workers have been engaged in mediation. In early March, the workers initiated a series of escalating sanctions that halted visa processing and consular services. The workers then launched a full-blown strike on March 7, protesting low wages and working conditions, and demanding pay increases in line with the costs of living in the countries to which they were posted. The strike closed all 103 of Israel’s foreign missions, including its United Nations mission, as well as its Jerusalem headquarters. Under an agreement reached last night with the Ministry of Finance, wages will be set by a formula used in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, to adjust for cost-of-living increases.

BAL Analysis:  While the news is a positive development, the strike will leave a large backlog in its wake. The Ministry has not provided any estimates on how long it will take to clear the backlogs, and processing delays may vary among Israeli consular posts. This is the second strike in less than 12 months and hopefully the agreement to index Ministry wages for cost-of-living increases will be a long-term solution.

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