Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Tuesday said that legislation to raise the minimum wage from NIS 4,300 a month to NIS 5,000 over two years could move forward, even during the campaign season.
The decision is a turnaround from late December, when Weinstein raised objections to advancing legislation in the run-up to the March 17 election, especially provisions that would affect wages in the long-term. In particular, Weinstein objected to a clause that would ensure that the minimum wage was set to 52 percent of the average wage.
In the weeks before the governing coalition collapsed in early December, the Histadrut labor federation negotiated the minimum wage hike with private and public sector leaders under threat of a general strike.
As the political situation in the government fell apart, the group inked a deal with business leaders, leaving aside issues of public sector workers.
Several weeks later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with officials from the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut, and reached an understanding to adopt the earlier agreement’s decisions and advance them through legislation ahead of elections.
He said he would advance the increase for the public sector as well, but Weinstein’s December opinion threw that option into doubt.
The agreements are set to raise the minimum wage to NIS 4,650 starting in April, NIS 4,825 in July, 2016, and NIS 5,000 as of January, 2017.
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn praised the decision, saying it would help 700,000 workers.
“This is greatly important social news in the fight to reduce disparities in Israeli society,” he said.
Hadash MK Dov Henin vowed to continue pushing for the original minimum wage goal of NIS 5,300, saying the agreed upon increase was a good first step, but would not help bring enough people out of poverty. He also chided Netanyahu for waiting until election season to advance such legislation.
“Up until now, Netanyahu opposed our legislation on the topic, but it turns out that elections can cause even him to relate to the social and economic reality in Israel,” he said.