Elderly Israelis wait for their turn to vote .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry reached a deal Wednesday to postpone reforming long-term nursing care insurance, averting a potential general strike.
“Logic won and we succeeded in saving the long-term care insurance for hundreds of thousands of Israelis,” Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn said in a joint press conference with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
The Histadrut had threatened to declare a general labor dispute Wednesday, which would start a two-week countdown to a legal strike that could shut down massive portions of the economy, both in the government and private sector.
The deal will see planned reforms – including the cancellation of collective long-term care policies – postponed for a year. Insurance will be available through health funds for those whose current options are no longer available, with special requirement exemptions for those over the age of 60.
“We will not abandon our parents,” Kahlon said.
The two sides will take the year to negotiate arrangements more acceptable to the Histadrut, which said the reforms would leave many of the insured out in the cold.
Finance Ministry Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings director Dorit Salinger, who led the reforms, said that the current system is unsustainable.
The ministry came to the conclusion that insurance companies would not be able to provide the promised benefits, given that roughly a million workers were able to pay mere shekels in premiums. The reform would have increased premiums and slashed benefits.
Salinger said the compromise is important for finding a solution to a long-term problem.
No deal has yet been reached on new pension plans, which the Histadrut had said would also be part of its labor dispute.
Talks on that issue are ongoing, according to the Histadrut.