Employees of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry held a one-day strike Wednesday as a “warning” to the ministry in light of what workers called “one-sided changes” being implemented.
Some 3,000 ministry workers – probation officers, social workers, and child investigators throughout the country – went on strike, effectively shutting down necessary welfare services, with the approval of the Association of Social Workers and the Histadrut labor federation.
The employees protested what they called unilateral changes carried out by the ministry with regard to their job descriptions, duties, and the increase in their workload without financial compensation – all without any negotiations with employee representatives.
The call to strike was also triggered by the ministry’s decision to suspend six child investigators who met with the worker’s association regarding the ongoing labor dispute declared in June of last year, according to the Association of Social Workers.
“The Welfare Ministry is harming the legitimate rights of every employee to exercise the right to unionize,” said Safra Dweck, head of the association.
“The ministry’s management is operating in an offensive and vindictive manner and is trying to impose its authority and uproot experienced and dedicated professionals through intimidation and persecution.”
Yossi Silman, director-general of the ministry, said in response that welfare departments in local municipalities began implementing reforms three years ago and since that time numerous efforts were made to include the social workers in the decision making process, though they declined.
In addition, he said that the ministry also began implementing reforms in 2014 and requested employees to provide professional insight, though these requests were not answered until now. Regardless, he said all reforms have been halted until the new government is formed.
“I wonder what the real reasons are behind the strike declaration. Furthermore, I am concerned with the ease in which the workers’ association can disable the ministry with 3,000 workers and cause damage to the disadvantaged populations in Israel and I regret that nobody is asking why,” he said.