Knesset cafeteria workers to strike, hold protest

50 workers in Knesset’s 3 cafeterias uncertain about their future job status.

March 18, 2012 23:07
1 minute read.

MKs and Knesset employees will find themselves without lunch on Monday when cafeteria workers there go on strike for the three busiest hours of the workday to protest their employment conditions.

They will demonstrate outside the Knesset from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the presence of MKs and social activists.

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The 50 workers in the Knesset’s three cafeterias are contract employees of Shefa Food Services. Last week, they received notice that they would be fired as of Wednesday.

Most cafeteria workers are fired twice a year, when the Knesset’s recesses begin. They are then rehired when the recesses end. Wednesday is the last day of the winter session. However, Shefa’s contract with the Knesset also ends on Wednesday, and because the Knesset’s management has yet to choose a new catering company for the three cafeterias, the employees are uncertain about their future job status.

Many of the current cafeteria workers were employed by previous catering companies that had contracts with the Knesset. They had hoped that when Shefa’s contract ended they would continue to work in the building.

Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich sent a letter to Knesset director-general Dan Landau in which she said the cafeteria workers “do not receive a salary for many months of each year, and suffer from insecurity in their working situation and repeated disruptions in their ability to gain seniority, which would give them better salaries and social benefits.”

Yacimovich added that her party denounced this practice and that the Knesset was meant to serve as a symbol of justice and civil rights. Therefore, she wrote, the Knesset should ensure the rights of all its employees, especially contract workers. She also asked Landau to consider direct employment for the cafeteria workers.

Nitzan Tanami, leader of the Coalition for Direct Employment, which is organizing the strike and protest, called on Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to intervene and prevent the cafeteria workers from being fired. She added that contract work was unacceptable and must be minimized, and that the Knesset should serve as an example to the rest of the economy.

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