IBA’s future may be looking up

Finance Ministry agrees to infuse NIS 700 million in broadcasting authority’s coffers.

March 21, 2010 04:48
2 minute read.
The IBA building in Jerusalem (Ariel Jerozolimski)

IBA 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The euphoria in the voice of a spokeswoman for the Israel Broadcasting Authority who called media outlets late Thursday night to advise them of a breakthrough in negotiations between the IBA, the Treasury and the Histadrut may have been somewhat premature.

Following a 12-hour meeting on Thursday between senior representatives of the three organizations, an agreement of principles with regard to the proposed IBA reforms was finally reached.

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Now, here comes the rub. The final draft of the agreement will not be presented to the various sides until the beginning of May, and a lot can happen between now and then.

If all goes well, and everyone who has to sign it does sign it, IBA employees will receive an instant pay rise of 5 percent retroactive to January 2008.

At face value, it doesn’t seem to differ much from anything previously published. The bottom line is that 700 IBA employees will be taken off the payroll – and that has been common knowledge for well over a year.

One of the reasons that it has been difficult to implement this drastic step is the IBA’s huge deficit. There was no financial incentive available to persuade veteran staff members to take early retirement. And that’s where a major change comes in. The Finance Ministry, which has been niggardly about making funds available to the IBA, has agreed to infuse the IBA’s coffers with NIS 700 million.

Securing the Finance Ministry’s agreement on funding was made easier by the participation of Udi Nissan, its budgets director, and Ilan Levin, the ministry’s wages director, along with his deputy, Barak Straussberg. Also present were Eran Horn, the IBA’s deputy director of finances and Histadrut lawyer Avi Niskorn. Had the Finance Ministry people met only with Moti Sklar, the IBA’s director-general, and representatives of the workers, they might have been less amenable.

But there was another important participant – Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, who despite having an uncharismatic voice is nonetheless gifted with powers of persuasion.

It was largely his input that took the agreement leading to the reform a step further in that consensus was reached on new principles for work conditions and wages in collective agreements for those IBA employees represented by the Histadrut.

This included updating salary scales, rules for promotion and salary increases, and creating a means of giving those workers who have reached their potential in a particular field an avenue through which they can still enjoy career advancement.

The agreement also provides for the creation of a new technological infrastructure that will enable the introduction of modern equipment, a clocking-in monitor that is intended to do away with hand-written reports of presence at work, determining what constitutes a working week, enlargement of savings toward workers’ pensions – and, perhaps most important, flexibility in management.

Sklar said after the exhaustive and exhausting meeting that he was appreciative of the tremendous effort that had been made by the Treasury officials, Eini and the workers’ representatives, who had all demonstrated understanding, responsibility and a willingness to compromise.

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