One hundred thousand Israeli families will rise above the poverty line thanks to
a new law that strengthens enforcement of labor laws, Industry, Trade and Labor
Minister Shalom Simhon predicted Wednesday.
Speaking at a symposium
hosted by his ministry in Tel Aviv, Simhon said that labor laws may as well not
exist if there is no power to enforce them. He urged Histadrut Chairman Ofer
Eini and Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations President Zvi Oren – who
were both present – to cooperate with each other in order to ensure enforcement
The Law to Strengthen Enforcement of Labor Laws came into effect
It introduced new procedures for quick treatment of small and
occasional transgressors, and new criminal procedures to be issued against the
It increased the maximum fines employers may be
issued for violating labor laws, and permitted their names to be
Oren said he was looking forward to working with the ministry
and with Eini, but added that existing labor laws would need to become more
He explained that 80 percent of factories face a shortage of
qualified workers, but that the law prevents them from asking their employees to
work a certain amount of overtime – even if the employees themselves
“I want you to understand what type of employer we are talking
about,” Oren said. “We are talking about small employers are trying to realize
their dream and their idea. We are not talking about people who are looking to
exploit their workers.”
Eini claimed that almost 50% of the labor force
lives in poverty, and blamed much of it on a lack of enforcement.
now there were only 19 workplace supervisors in the Industry, Trade and Labor
Ministry, he said, adding: “Imagine if there were only 19 policemen in the
The labor federation chief also raised the dispute over
the employment status of contract workers, which was the focus of a four-day
Histadrut general strike in February. Accusing Treasury officials of speaking to
him through the media, Eini said he would now use the media to address Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
has been happening lately is a fatal blow to the poor and the middle class. They
[the government] don’t allow people to live, and still that is not enough for
them,” he said.
Billionaire businessman Stef Wertheimer welcomed tighter
enforcement, and presented a philosophical stance in which he argued that the
word “work” (avoda
) should replace the word “employment” or “occupation”
) in public discourse.
“We are not used to viewing work as
something of which we are proud,” he said. “Why not respect the industrialists,
the professionals, and the teachers properly? If we understood that what we are
really missing are professionals, the situation in Israel would be
different. We shouldn’t be talking on television all the time about
money, but also about import and export industries.”
Also at the
conference, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry presented the results of a
recent poll, revealing a stunning lack of awareness of labor laws among both
employers and employees.
Sixty-six percent of employees and 36% of
employers who responded to the poll were not aware of the minimum wage. Around
60% of employers did not know of the existence of a law that stipulates how they
must treat employees.
Additionally, 7.6% of employers did not allocate
pension payments to workers as required by law, and about 15% of employees
claimed their workplace rights had been violated.