Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The cabinet on Sunday approved a plan to increase the monthly minimum wage from NIS 4,300 to NIS 5,000 over two years, a bill the Knesset will take up for fast-track approval on Wednesday. Once approved, the bill will raise the wage to NIS 4,650 effective April 1, raise it again to NIS 4,825 in July 2016, and finally to NIS 5,000 in January 2017.
“I think that this reflects our desire to help all segments of society, and I am happy that it happened with the agreement of the employers and employees,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It is important for the State of Israel and we certainly welcome it.”
The main elements of the deal were agreed to in December between the Histadrut labor federation – which threatened a general strike – and business leaders. Negotiations with the government were sidelined when the governing coalition fell apart and their chief negotiating partner, then-finance minister Yair Lapid, was fired.
Lapid’s Yesh Atid party still praised the plan’s approval, saying it was a moral policy Lapid formulated alongside other social initiatives in his 2015 budget proposal, which was never approved.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein had questioned plans to increase the minimum wage during election season, but eventually gave his blessing for the plan to move forward. He did insist, however, on removing a clause that would permanently set the minimum wage at 52% of the average wage. That plan may be taken up again following the March 17 elections.
“There were those who said we should postpone [the decision] until the next government, but 700,000 Israeli don’t have time to wait,” said Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn praised the bill’s cabinet approval, saying: “This decision helps put into practice the closing of social gaps and reduction of lack of equality in Israel.”