The Histadrut labor federation has declared a nationwide labor dispute after a meeting yesterday between its leader Amir Peretz and Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, over civil service wages, came to nothing.

Peretz demanded a wage raise for civil servants based on the rise in consumer prices this year. But the finance minister was not forthcoming.

The significance of the official dispute notice is that unless the Histadrut's demands are satisfied, the workers under its sway go on strike in 15 days.

Peretz announced that he would exhaust all means to reach agreement before dragging the nation into a maelstrom.

On Thursday the labor federation will be meeting with representatives of private business, headed by Manufacturers Association president Oded Tyrah, regarding cost of living increases.