Social Workers 311.
(photo credit: RUTH EGLASH)
As the social workers’ strike reaches the end of its third week, some in the
profession are feeling increasingly let down by those at the helm of
negotiations with the Treasury to increase salaries and overhaul existing pay
scales, The Jerusalem Post learned Wednesday.
“We are very disappointed
with the minister of welfare and social services [Moshe Kahlon] and with
[Histadrut Labor Federation chairman] Ofer Eini, who both said the strike is
hurting the weakest elements in society and we should go back to work,”
commented Jerusalem municipal social worker Shuli Gerson.
“Even though we
fight for the rights of the weak in society, we are also entitled to fight for
our own rights. If the port workers even threaten to strike, an immediate
solution is found and they receive an addition to their salary – but they are
not willing to do the same for us.”
Gerson said that despite an offer
from the Treasury to increase salaries by some 25 percent, to which Eini and
Social Workers Union head Itzhik Perry agreed in principle, the overall
conditions were not acceptable and the “fight must continue.”
surface you see an increase of 25%, but when you break it down, it is not what
it seems,” explained social worker Inbal Hermoine, spokeswoman for Atidenu, a
movement for social workers.
“All civil service workers were set to get a
7% increase anyway, and 4% of the raise is linked to working an additional hour
and a half a week,” she said. “That leaves a 14% rise, which the Treasury wants
to spread out over the next three years. This is not acceptable.”
Hermoine and Gerson also criticized the Social Workers Union for changing its
direction and not sticking with the original demands to update existing pay
scales, which have not changed in more than 17 years.
A spokeswoman for
the union confirmed to the Post on Wednesday that it had rejected the Treasury’s
offer and after an emergency meeting Tuesday was looking for a way to restart
negotiations with Finance Ministry representatives. However, she denied media
reports that the union felt abandoned by the Histadrut, which is meant to
represent the union’s interests in such labor disputes, saying.
still protecting us and they were the ones who spoke out at the labor court
hearing on Tuesday,” she said.
The Treasury turned to the Tel Aviv Labor
Court on Tuesday requesting legal intervention to force some 1,600 social
workers in the public sector to return to work. The request was denied, with the
judge affording the union one more week to find a reasonable solution to the
In the court’s ruling, the judge referred to comments made by
Eini earlier this week where he said the strike had “lost all sense of
proportion” and that the offer on the table was as far as it could go.
a Facebook page set up by social workers called “Social Workers Struggle 2011,”
many of the 10,000 members grumbled that those leading the negotiations had made
key mistakes, with some even calling for Perry to resign.
“It’s not like
we are on a break,” Gerson pointed out.
“We are working hard going from
protest to protest. We are not ready to go back to work yet because the offer is
simply not acceptable.”
A spokesman for Kahlon said that the minister
felt the battle had gone far enough.
“He said that he would fight for the
social workers and help them improve their salaries,” the spokesman
“The offer from the Treasury does that, and prolonging this battle
is only hurting the 1.5 million people who need social workers’
The spokesman added that the other demands, such as adjusting the
pay scale, which is a state decision, could be met once they return to
Despite the minister’s appeal to return to work, hundreds of social
workers are expected to gather in Jerusalem Thursday outside the Finance
Ministry to show support for the struggle, which many say is a battle for social
rights and for strengthening a welfare state. Social workers outside of
Jerusalem have arranged to meet at the Redding Power Station parking lot at 8
a.m. and drive together along Route 1 into the capital.
begins at 11:30 a.m.