MK Igal Yasinov has potentially secured his Israel Beiteinu party an extra 50,000 votes in next week's election by succeeding Tuesday in pushing through reforms to ensure that the country's security guards get paid more money for the overtime hours they work.
"We live in a crazy country and these are the people who watch over us everyday," Yasinov, number 14 on his party's list, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday following a meeting of the Knesset's Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee.
The committee, which is headed by MK Haim Katz, agreed to make changes to a 1951 law that dictates that security guards need to work up to 10 hours a day before overtime hours kick in. Most of Israel's workforce receives overtime pay after only eight hours of work. According to the reforms approved by the committee, security guards will now be paid overtime hours of 25 percent on any time worked past eight hours.
"Many security guard companies took advantage of that law, making their employees work up to 10 hours for minimum pay," said Ariel Shneor, advisor to Yasinov.
Estimates put at 33,000 the number of armed security guards in this country and at 16,000 the number of security guards without weapons.
"The change will help bring in additional money to all the workers in that field," said Yasinov, who set the reforms in motion more than a year ago with a report on the status of security guards in this country. "I am very proud that we have managed to make such a dramatic reform."
Hanna Zohar, head of Kav La'oved (Workers' Hotline), which was involved in implementing and researching the reforms, commented that "security guards' salaries are amongst the lowest in this country and now, with the change, if they work a minute over eight hours they will get more money in their monthly paycheck."
Zohar claimed that more than 40% of security guard companies did not pay their workers according to the law. "In many places they work over the eight hours with no extra compensation," she said.
Yasinov said also that "this is only the first step, there is much more to do. We want to bring security guards' working conditions in line with everyone else's."
He went on to say that many of those working as security guards earned only minimum wage and most were not entitled to other basic benefits such as sick pay, vacation days and pension plans.
Yasinov added that within the next week an official letter would be sent out to all security guard agencies informing them that as of July 1 their workers would have to be compensated for any time worked past eight hours.
"I am not sure that it will change straight away," said Zohar, "but now it will be harder for employers to mess their workers around when it comes to paying them what they deserve."