Caregivers protest exploitation at demonstration in Tel Aviv

Over 150,000 patients receive service from 120,000 caregivers.

Caregivers protest exploitation at demonstration in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2018 (Tamara Zieve)
Hundreds of caregivers from across the country protested their employment conditions and alleged exploitation at a protest held in front of a government compound in Tel Aviv Wednesday.
The demonstrators’ demands included a halt of the exploitation in the industry, receiving respectful treatment, and improving the minimum wage and current working conditions, which lead to a significant shortage in manpower.
According to the spokesman’s unit of the Histadrut labor federation, over 150,000 patients receive service from 120,000 caregivers.
The Histadrut demands that an agreement be reached with the organization responsible for the nursing companies and state budgeting, to improve and regulate the employment conditions of the workers, solve the shortage of manpower in the field, and ensure the allocation of the necessary resources for employers.
Leaders of the caregivers committee addressed participants in the rally, calling upon the government and the National Insurance Institute to sign an agreement that will improve their conditions.
“It is inconceivable that we cannot live in dignity. We insist on our rights and we are strong. We will not stop the struggle until we reach achievements,” said Smadar Ben Ezra Farhi.
Kulanu MK Tali Ploskov, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Creating a National Master Plan to Aid the Elderly,  addressed the crowd to loud cheers of support and thanks, saying: “This is the response to decision-makers.”
Hundreds of caregivers gather in front of government compound in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest working conditions/ TAMARA ZIEVE
Ploskov spoke of her brief stint as a caregiver when she immigrated to Israel from Moldova. “I broke because I was weak,” she said, repeatedly expressing her admiration and respect for those who work in that field. The demands of the caregivers, she said should include increased pay for veteran caregivers over junior ones, training, as well as psychological support. “When patients die, I know what you go through,” she said. “I want everyone in this state to give you respect because you deserve it, and that everyone will say they are proud to be a caregiver.”
“We are proud, that’s why we are here,” remarked one member of the crowd.
“You are those who take care of our parents when we are at work or looking after our children or ourselves, and you deserve a huge thanks,” Ploskov emphasized.
She also remarked that while she was happy to see a few men in the crowd, over 90% of employees in the field are women.
Yossi Barbi, the chairman of the Association of Guards, Cleaners and Nursing Workers, said: “The nursing care workers are not transparent. They do very hard work with the elderly population of the country, and there is no substitute for them. We, as a moral and just society, are committed to caring for, and giving a horizon and future to, the profession. All the relevant bodies in the country should join hands in this important cause and allocate the necessary resources and budget to ensure that the workers receive appropriate wages and fair conditions and perform their work in the best professional manner. It is in the interest of all of us.”