Social workers’ strike enters Day 11 despite progress

The remaining bone of contention involves the mechanism for ensuring that social workers employed by NGOs funded by the state receive the raise the sides agreed upon.

By JONAH MANDEL
March 16, 2011 04:47
2 minute read.
Striking social workers demonstrate in North

Social Workers 311. (photo credit: RUTH EGLASH)

Despite optimism that Tuesday would be its last day, the social workers’ strike will enter its 11th day on Wednesday, after 10 hours of talks between the Finance Ministry and the Social Workers Union, backed by Histadrut labor federation officials, failed to produce an agreement.

The remaining bone of contention involves the mechanism for ensuring that social workers who are employed by NGOs funded by the state receive the raise the sides agreed upon.

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According to the understandings, those social workers will be now earning at least NIS 7,100, which is the average wage of a state-employed social worker with five years’ experience. The representatives of the social workers are insisting that the state ensure that the additional funds it gives the NGOs will reach the employees, but the state has no interest in such involvement.

There are some 5,000 social workers employed by nongovernmental organizations funded by the state.

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.

In return, the social workers will now be obligated to work 40.5 hours a week instead of the 39 to which they have hitherto committed.

Some 150 local authorities held a one-day strike on Tuesday in solidarity with the social workers. The Union of Local Authorities’ plan for a strike that would include all the authorities fell through after the Forum of 15 – which unites 15 large cities, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Netanya, Ra’anana and Herzliya – declared on Monday it would not be participating.

Meanwhile Tuesday, some 200 social work students from Tel Aviv University blocked the city’s Rehov Arlozorov for three hours after rumors began circulating about an impending deal with the Treasury. The spontaneous demonstration began outside the Histadrut building in the city, where the talks were taking place, and then spread to the road, reinforced by social workers who arrived at the scene.

The students were concerned that the social workers employed by the NGOs would not be receiving the benefits that the stateemployed social workers were to get. Five students were arrested during the protest.


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