Private sector cleaning workers will receive a nearly NIS 1,000 boost to their combined monthly pay and benefits starting next month, following an agreement the Economy Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation signed on Wednesday.
Monthly salaries will increase NIS 340 above the minimum wage of NIS 4,300 now paid. In addition, their pension provision will rise to 21.83 percent (combined from worker and employer, 1 percentage point above the standard), and there will be a 10% contribution to their education fund (7.5% of salary from employer, 2.5% from worker), two annual NIS 200 holiday gifts, days off for special events such as weddings, and convalescence pay of NIS 50 above the accepted amount for each day of work.
Employers are to supply at least two sets of work uniforms a year, and those that offer subsidized food/cafeterias are to allow contract worker to partake.
The Economy Ministry estimated the overall improvement of pay and benefits at 20%.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post that raising the wages of the contract workers was the most important decision he had made since he became a minister, and that he was glad that he had the opportunity to help such wonderful people, who worked so hard.
“The order is a testament to the public of tens of thousands of works in the cleaning sector and to society, which strives to be more sensitive and attentive to the weak living near them,” he said at the signing ceremony.
The contract workers were the economy’s “invisible workers,” Bennett said. Most were single mothers, new immigrants and minorities, he said, and despite their hard work, their salaries and social status were the lowest possible. “Today that ends.”
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini praised the deal.
“For the first time, cleaning workers in the private sector will enjoy all the social benefits in the terms of state employees. This is the first step to returning their dignity, that they feel part of the work place,” he said.
The sides were nearing a breakthrough on the status of a similar order for security workers in the private sector.
In February 2012, the Histadrut led a four-day general strike over the issue of cleaners and security guards in the public sector, many of whom had worse working conditions than their salaried counterparts because they were hired on a contractual basis.
The strike ended following an agreement to increase wages and benefits for the contract workers, and to absorb a portion of them into direct employment under certain conditions.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.