Monday’s four-hour strike that shut down public transport, international
flights, health, welfare, educational services and more is just the start of the
battle to end the growing trend of contract workers, said social workers
employed through non-profit welfare organizations to provide services in the
“The strike brought this issue to the public
consciousness, but it was not enough, and we see this as only the beginning of
the battle,” said “Karen,” a contract social worker, who requested anonymity,
from the Atidenu movement.
Karen, a social worker for youth, has the same
tasks and responsibility as other social workers employed by her local
municipality but does not receive the same benefits or status as
“It is a form of modern-day slavery,” she said, adding that it was
time for the government to end this phenomenon as much as possible. “I am a
proud Israeli and I really want to believe that the state wants to take care of
its citizens as much as possible.”
Karen, who did not work Monday morning
in protest and solidarity with other contract workers, said the situation had
“There are so many people in this situation,” she
“They work for the municipality, either in the welfare or education
departments, they work the same hours, sit in the same offices but there is a
huge discrepancy in their conditions.”
Karen described how, as a contract
employee, she is not allowed to join the workers committee, and twice a year
when others around her receive a one-time gift for the Jewish holidays, she
“It is the basic privilege of a worker who gives their
heart to their job to be rewarded with a holiday bonus, but I don’t get
anything,” said the social worker, who works full time for around NIS 5000 a
Regev also said that because of her status, any experience she
accumulates does not transfer to another place of employment.
“I have a
job now but if I leave, I will have nothing – not even the experience I have
gained,” she said.
Regev also spoke about the strides made earlier this
year by public-sector social workers who were on strike for three weeks. During
the negotiations there were some demands for contract social workers like Regev,
but in the final outcome they were locked out of the agreement.
a one-time gift of NIS 200 and the chance to have their salaries increased in
stages over the next four years. We got nothing,” she lamented, adding that it
was only thanks to the goodwill of the municipality she was afforded some of the
Karen, who has been working in social services for the
past year and a half since graduating university, said the increasing
privatization is symptomatic of a government that refuses to take responsibility
for its workers.
“The government puts out a lottery and then just gives a
financial allocation to the organization that wins,” she said, adding that out
of those who graduated alongside her with a social-work degree no one has found
fully-fledged government positions.
“Over the past few years, the
government has privatized more and more services and the results are what we are
seeing today,” observed Karen. “At the beginning it was just cleaners and
security personnel – the invisible workers – but now, more and more it is
health, welfare and educational professionals and the government cannot hide
from them for much longer.”
According to previous information from the
Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs roughly 80 percent of social services in
Israel are today contracted out by the government to non-profit agencies or
While many provide specialized services, there is
little official supervision on how they treat their employees.