JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's largest labor union launched an open-ended nationwide strike for the first time in five years on Wednesday, shutting down national and local government offices, banks, the stock exchange, rail service and seaports.

Workers at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport participated in the strike until noon, causing flight delays. Israel Radio technicians also halted work, leaving the state-run station silent expect for brief news broadcasts.

Union leaders are protesting the widespread use of contract workers in both the public and private sector. Contract workers earn less than people who are directly employed and do not enjoy the same benefits as regular staff employees.

The Histadrut labor federation called the strike after overnight talks with the Finance Ministry failed to produce a breakthrough.

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