General strike planned if social workers deal not reached

The Union of Local Authorities says strike will begin next week and will include all municipal services except for educational institutions.

By JONAH MANDEL, JOSHUA HAMERMAN
March 11, 2011 04:08
2 minute read.
Striking social workers demonstrate in North

Social Workers 311. (photo credit: RUTH EGLASH)

 
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The Union of Local Authorities announced on Thursday that they would commence a general strike next Tuesday if an agreement is not reached with the striking social workers by Monday.

The decision was reached at the organization’s general assembly meeting, and will include all municipal services except for educational institutions.

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Many social workers have been striking since Sunday in demand of better salaries and conditions.

“The local authorities are forced into striking since the social work is at the core of the services we provide our residents,” Union Chairman Shlomo Buhbut said. “We demand, of course, full compensation for any agreement that will be signed.”

Talks between representatives of the social workers and the Finance Ministry broke down Wednesday night after both sides could not agree on how the state-funded NGOs would pay the raise.

According to the offer, the 5,000 social workers employed by NGOs (commissioned by the state to provide welfare services), will get a raise bringing their salary to roughly NIS 6,000.



However, there are also some 10,000 social workers employed directly by the state, or local authorities.

Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres praised the social workers on Thursday in an address to a group of students taking part in the National Union of Israeli Students’ leadership seminar in Jerusalem.

“Social workers chose their vocation not because of the career it offers, but out of a sense of mission, and they face a harsh front,” the president said. “The state should treat them with true respect, and a salary that would enable these people to fulfill their mission.”

A petition signed by 144 professors of social work from various Israeli colleges and universities has also been signed in support of the social workers.

“I hope it will show our students that we support them, and that’s the most important thing,” said Asher Ben-Arieh, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Ben-Arieh attended two demonstrations by striking social workers in Jerusalem – and some of his colleagues have also joined the rallies in Jerusalem and other cities.

“I just hope they will remain strong, and if they do, they will eventually get their demands,” said Ben-Arieh, who collected all the signatures.

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