Israel’s far-right government unanimously approved on Sunday, August 13, a three-month back-to-work emergency ordinance forcing 50 employees at Dimona’s Negev Nuclear Research Center to return to their jobs.
The request for an emergency restraining order by the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) against the striking workers came after three months of job actions that caused disruption of day-to-day operations at the nuclear reactor, derailing essential state projects. During the strike, which reportedly began in February amid negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, scientists have held up development plans, refused to grant safety licenses and have even ceased operating an essential piece of machinery.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the “strike endangers critical interests of the State of Israel.” Employees who refuse to return to work could be fired. Others could have their salaries cut and would be prohibited from quitting while the injunction is in effect.
In a letter to government ministers, the head of the scientists’ committee called on the cabinet to block the ordinance, calling it “insulting and unnecessary.” He also said that workers have been waiting eight years for a new collective bargaining agreement and had only begun to protest during the past six months.