Social workers' strike enters 12th day as talks fail

Thousands of social workers express anger and apprehension at terms of impending deal: "Contains nothing of what we were promised."

By JONAH MANDEL
March 17, 2011 09:19
2 minute read.
Social workers at a demonstration

Social workers demonstration 311 . (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Yet another round of talks between the Social Workers Union, Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials late Wednesday night in Jerusalem failed to bring an agreement that would end the social workers strike, which will be entering its twelfth day on Thursday.

But social workers are expressing anger and apprehension at the impending deal, and even threatening to continue to strike, were the union representatives to finalize the terms revealed on Tuesday.

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“Thousands of social workers are frustrated and furious over what appears to be the outline of the deal, which is a disgrace and contains nothing of what we were promised,” said Tamar Shtekler, a striking state-employed social social worker who normally works with addicts in Ramla. She proceeded to note the lacking “significant salary raise, car expenses, a change in the wages table, additional payments for extra hours and on-call duty, as well as implementing these working conditions of state employees on NGO social workers.”

“To that, they add the fact that we will need to be working another hour-and-a-half per week. I sincerely hope they do not sign this agreement, and if they do, that we have the courage to continue striking,” she said.

An official letter by union head Itzik Perry on Tuesday detailed what appeared to be the outlines of the agreement. The 5,000 social workers employed by NGOs funded by the state will be now earning at least NIS 7,100, which is the average wage of a state-employed social worker with five years’ experience. Social workers employed directly by the state or municipalities number approximately 10,000, and the sides have already agreed on a raise of their wages by an average of 25 percent, including in it the 7.25% raise all state employees received last December, and another NIS 1,100. The social workers will also see a 2% raise in the money allocated by their employers for pensions and social benefits, from 17.5% to 19.5%, and receive a one-time grant of NIS 2,000.

The remaining bone of contention seems to be disagreement over forming the mechanism to ensure that social workers who are employed by NGOs funded by the state receive the raise the sides agreed upon.

Hundreds of social workers and students blocked Rehov Shaul Hamelech in Tel Aviv in protest on Wednesday afternoon over the impending agreements. Social work students at the Tel Aviv University also held a demonstration on campus.


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