A bill Michael Ben-Ari and Ahmed Tibi can agree on

August 2, 2012 14:41

Sixty-one MKs from every faction in the Knesset sign legislation to protect their assistants' rights.

2 minute read.

The Knesset in Jerusalem

Great generic picture of Knesset 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Few issues united MKs Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), but the two men from opposite sides of the political spectrum signed a bill along with 59 other lawmakers from every faction in the Knesset to protect their assistants’ rights.

The legislation, initiated by MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) following a proposal by his aide Oren Lavi, is an amendment to the 1994 Knesset Law regarding parliamentary assistants.

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The bill calls for assistants to be considered Knesset employees, and be employed at the level of professional advisers to ministers.

“We are on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Dichter’s spokesman Nissan Ze’evi explained. “We are employed like contract workers, with salaries of NIS 6,800-NIS 7,400 a month.”

Ze’evi also pointed out the Knesset has a budgetary surplus of NIS 250,000, saying it can be used to raise assistants’ salaries.

Should the bill become law, aides would receive the same social benefits as Knesset employees and the salary and employment conditions of professional advisers, as determined by the Civil Service Commission.

Parliamentary assistants’ salaries would be paid from the Knesset budget, as opposed to the current situation in which each MK pays his or her staff.

“It would be appropriate if the Knesset, the institution that passes labor laws and deals with most of the workers in this country, would give MKs’ assistants a clear status, fair salary and social conditions equal to Knesset workers,” the bill’s explanatory section reads.

Of the 86 MKs who can cosponsor legislation – the 34 ministers and deputy ministers cannot – 61 signed the parliamentary assistants’ bill.

Every lawmaker in the National Union, UAL-Ta’al, Independence, Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism is listed on the draft, as are the vast majority from Kadima, Labor, Shas, Hadas and Meretz. Fewer than half of the MKs in the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Balad who could have signed the legislation did so.

The bill has yet to be officially submitted, as the Knesset is in summer recess, and aides are waiting to hear the Grunau Public Committee on MKs’ salaries recommendations on the matter.

In a February Knesset House Committee meeting, when MKs unanimously approved raising their own salaries, the Parliamentary Assistants Committee protested their low pay compared to spokespeople of Knesset committees, who are employed by the Knesset Spokesman’s Office, are paid NIS 12,000 a month and get a car.

The assistants said the Grunau Committee recommended assistants receive a raise, as long as they commit to working full-time and not seek additional employment.

The aides voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure, but it was not submitted the House Committee for a vote.

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