Caterers cook up wage agreement

Histadrut Labor Federation signs agreement with country’s largest catering company.

hisdadrut 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
hisdadrut 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Histadrut Labor Federation on Wednesday signed a collective wage agreement with Chefa Meals & Service Ltd., the country’s largest catering company. It is the first such accord in the local catering industry.
“The agreement with Chefa represents a model for adoption for other catering companies in Israel to improve the labor conditions of catering employees in the country,” Hertzel Yaka, chairman of the Histadrut’s Food and Pharmaceutical Union, said Wednesday.
The four-year agreement provides employment security for workers and secures industrial quiet for Chefa and its clients, he said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Chefa workers who earn minimum wage will get a salary increase of 0.5 percent. In addition, an incentive bonus program will be implemented with NIS 150,000 in funding.
Workers’ mandatory pension payments will be advanced by one year and start at the beginning of 2012 instead of 2013. Other improvements in the workers’ conditions include an increase in the amount of holiday vouchers and the establishment of a joint committee with the union and management.
The local catering industry has for many years been a profitable enterprise, as companies, institutions and organizations increasingly look to outside sources to provide meals.
Chefa Meals & Service has 1,100 workers in Israel. It is a subsidiary of global catering company Sodexo, which employs 400,000 workers worldwide. Chefa provides 100,000 meals a day in Israel to educational and health institutions, hi-tech companies, the Israel Electric Corporation, Bezeq, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry, among others.
Last October about 600 Chefa workers joined the Histadrut and asked the company’s management to start negotiations over a collective wage agreement. After attempts to bring management to the negotiation table failed, the Histadrut in December declared a labor dispute, after which Chefa’s management agree to enter talks.