Kibbutzim to narrow salary gaps, help elderly

Kibbutzim to narrow sala

kibbutz feeding cow 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
kibbutz feeding cow 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The majority of the heads of privatized kibbutzim on Thursday voted in favor of adopting measures aimed at setting limits to salary gaps and providing a security net for the elderly and economically weaker residents of "renewal" kibbutzim. "Voting in favor of the measures sets out the guidelines for a new agenda in the kibbutzim, while raising awareness, setting boundaries and averting the disintegration of society in the kibbutzim, which could result due to widening economic and social gaps," said Ze'ev Shor, secretary of the Kibbutz Movement. "The measures are the first step in the process of forming the image and identity of the kibbutz society for the 'day after' the economic crisis and the stabilization of the majority of kibbutzim." On Thursday, the Kibbutz Movement held a conference to vote on the implementation of recommendations aimed at bridging economic and social gaps within privatized kibbutzim. The conference was attended by representatives of about 100 of the 190 privatized kibbutzim. They voted unanimously in favor of the recommendations. The measures include closing salary gaps so that the ratio between the highest and the lowest salaries will not be more than 3:1, compared with 4:1 today, and limiting senior salaries. Currently, kibbutz members who work in agricultural and general-services jobs earn an average monthly salary of NIS 4,100, while members in senior jobs, such as chairman, community head or secretary, earn an average monthly salary of NIS 15,500 to NIS 17,200. A survey conducted two months ago among 190 privatized kibbutzim found that 69 percent of kibbutz members were earning an average monthly salary of below NIS 7,000, while 11% were earning an average monthly salary of at least NIS 9,000. More than 60% of kibbutz members said they were earning a good salary, according to the survey. The Kibbutz Movement said salary levels were reasonable because kibbutz members don't pay rent and most other expenses are subsidized. The measures delineate the kibbutz's duty to give preference to the employment of its members and to protect the joint ownership of assets. Other recommendations include the implementation of a progressive income-tax system to increase taxable income of high-wage earners and the establishment of mutual-assistance funds. In an effort to provide for the elderly and bridge economic gaps among the economically weaker residents, old-age pension contributions are to be made obligatory and increased. There are 256 kibbutzim, including 16 religious ones, out of which 190 have in recent years undergone an organizational and ideological transformation from the traditional collective community model to the so-called "renewal kibbutz" model. The renewal kibbutzim have basically undergone a privatization process, whereby every kibbutz member is responsible for earning his own living and salary, efficiency of new administrative methods are instituted and the "free ride" phenomenon is reduced. Such kibbutzim also feature a "security network" of mutual guarantees including education and health-care services and a guaranteed pension system intended to ensure a reasonable quality of life to the economically weaker residents. These services are supported partly by the taxable income revenues of each kibbutz member.