Treasury freezes tender for Holocaust survivor caregivers

Sanctions by 400 caregivers abruptly ended after agreement reached with Histadrut labor federation that public tender to select new operator would be postponed for six weeks.

Hospital beds 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospital beds 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Sanctions by 400 caregivers at three state-owned hostels for Holocaust survivors abruptly ended on Wednesday night, after an agreement was reached with the Histadrut labor federation that the public tender to select a new operator would be postponed for six weeks.
During this period, “the request of Prime Minister [and formally health minister] Binyamin Netanyahu to make the caregivers government workers will be examined.”
This was stated by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman from New York, were he is on state business. But a few hours before the Health Ministry statement giving credit to Litzman was released, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz issued his own from Jerusalem saying he had instructed his staff to “freeze” the tender to choose a contractor for supplying caregiver services at the three hostels.
Although the Treasury did not reveal whether it had decided to hire the 400 caregivers, whose services were privatized a few years ago, Steinitz said he wanted a “model to be formulated to continue the operations of the hostels while ensuring a high quality of life for residents and a high level of care.”
The Health Ministry statement said Litzman reached an agreement with Avi Nisankorn of the Histadrut’s professions branch to halt the labor dispute.
Litzman said that “out of an obligation to meet the needs of Holocaust survivors and the concern for their quality of life, at the request of the prime minister and in coordination with the Histadrut, we reached an end to [sanctions] and postponement of the tender for an agreed-upon period.”
In the past week, the Histadrut fought the new tender for caregivers at the three hostels – Pardesiya, Sha’are Menashe and Beer Ya’acov.
Every time a new contractor has been chosen, the low-paid employees are threatened with dismissal by their contractors.
The caregivers worked on an emergency schedule, and a number of medical service worker groups have held worker assemblies as a show of support for them.
Steinitz said he instructed professionals in his office to “act immediately together with all relevant factors” to prepare a new model. The Treasury said that the new tender had been prepared solely by the Health Ministry, “without the participation of the Finance Ministry.”
The Treasury was much criticized when it explained that since Holocaust survivors are very elderly, the project is “temporary,” thus the caregivers cannot be state workers.