Social workers facebook page 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As social workers gear up for an open-ended strike set to start Sunday, the
union that represents more than 11,000 of them countrywide is gaining emphasis
and support for its battle via Facebook.
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Set up just over two weeks ago,
the Social Workers Struggle 2011 page on the networking site has already gained
close to 5,000 followers and is serving as a forum for workers to air their
grievances and frustrations, as well as a way to stay updated on the latest news
regarding the labor action.
Talks between the Treasury and the Social
Workers Union to increase salaries and improve work conditions broke down on
Wednesday afternoon, with the Finance Ministry saying it was doing everything to
avert a strike and Social Workers Union Chairman Itzhak Perry claiming that the
offers made were “a mockery” and that the union had “no choice but to strike
starting on Sunday.”
“We started the Facebook page basically because many
of the newer social workers are present on it and because they are the ones that
this strike will really help,” commented David Golan, the union’s spokesman and
the one responsible for updating the page.
“Of course not all social
workers use Facebook but for those that do, it is a tool that allows them to
vent and get out their frustration over the situation. We also use it to get out
information about the strike and dispel rumors. It’s a very useful
In addition to the updates and discussions, the page provides
links to everything written about the strike action, as well as articles and
news clips from the traditional media.
“New media like Facebook is just
as important in disseminating a message as the old type of media,” observed
Golan, adding that the forum on Facebook would also serve to support social
workers during the forthcoming action and afterwards when they have to go back
to their employers and demand their rights.
There are roughly 15,000
active social workers in Israel, with 10,000 of them working in the public
sector and a further 5,000 in the private sector. Even though most social
workers have academic degrees, the base pay for a new social worker in the
public sector is no more than NIS 2,300, with income support and other fiscal
benefits bumping it up slightly.
After two or three years in the trade,
social workers can usually expect to earn no more than NIS 6,000 a month. Golan
pointed out that social workers in the private sector earn even
Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center Prof. Tal Samuel Azran, an expert
in new media, said the creation of such a page on Facebook “once again shows how
strong social networks and citizen journalism can be.
have been quiet for so long – similar to the people in Egypt – and that can
create an explosion among the people,” he said.
“They are a group that
never had the chance to unite and collaborate before and social media is giving
them this opportunity. I believe it will inspire other groups, such as the
nurses, that do not have the privilege to strike, to take action.”