Social workers still waiting for wage hike

A year after strike, their average pay is just NIS 30 an hour.

January 4, 2012 05:41
2 minute read.
Sunday's Social Worker's Protest

Sunday's Social Worker's Protest _311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Almost a year after they went on strike for a month, thousands of social workers employed by outsourced NGOs and private companies for the Health and Welfare ministries still haven’t received promises wage increases.

The average social worker in this kind of job earns about NIS 30 per hour.

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The association of social workers in voluntary organizations conducted a survey of members to learn how many of them received the wage increases they won as a result of the strike. The association said that 75 percent of them received no pay raise since the end of the strike, even though government social workers employed by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Health Ministry did.

The social workers employed by the voluntary organizations and for-profit companies to rehabilitate psychiatric patients said that they would like to be government employees, but that it was the ministries that insisted their jobs be outsourced and refused any connection with the social workers so there was no legal employer-employee relationship with them.

The association complained two weeks ago to the Health Ministry, which arranged a meeting with director- general Prof. Ronni Gamzu, and senior manpower official Dov Fast, together with the Histadrut labor federation’s Yitzhak Perry, who deals with social worker issues.

Fast told The Jerusalem Post that the non-profit organizations “signed a contract with the ministry in which they commit themselves to pay their workers the salaries they must pay.”

He added that periodically, the voluntary organizations’ and private companies' allocations were updated, without connection to wage increases required by agreements reached after strikes, just as the per diem hospitalization rate in public hospitals was raised from time to time. Thus, he said, the non-profit organizations and private companies must cover the wage increases without receiving special allocations connected to a strike.

“We are checking with the Histadrut to find out which paid the increases and which did not, and we may cancel our outsourcing contracts with those that did not meet the conditions of the contracts and choose others instead,” Fast said.

Asked if, when and by how much the allocations to the non-profit organizations were increased since the strike, Fast said he did not know. “All suppliers of services to the ministry must carry out the conditions of the contracts they signed,” he said.

Inbal Shlosberg, chairman of Amuta, which represents 5,000 social workers who do contractual work, said that some of the social workers were paid extra, but most weren’t.

About 9,000 social workers are state employees without this problem.

“We prefer to be state employees, but the government doesn’t have job slots,” said Shlosberg, a social worker employed by the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. “Our situation is like that of the office cleaners in state offices who are paid by contractors.”

About 11% of the social workers are men. If the majority were men, who are regarded as the family’s main breadwinners, social workers would probably be better paid, she said.

The ministries supervise services, but not the wages of the professionals who provide services to the government from the outside, she said.

Shlosberg said the social workers were planning a struggle to finally get their pay raises.

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