Gov't reaches deal with social workers to add positions

The Social Workers Union reached a deal late Thursday night with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Treasury after imposing work sanctions for 83 days. According to the agreement 221 new positions will be created for social workers, with 170 of those being written into the 2009 state budget. The Treasury also agreed to allocate NIS 14 million for security guards and other measures for social work agencies countrywide, which recently have seen a sharp rise in attacks. During its two-and-a-half months of labor action, the Social Workers Union repeatedly complained that its members were responsible for between 200-400 case files each, far too many for them provide adequate service. A recent report compiled by the Knesset Committee on Labor, Welfare and Health noted that 480,464 families were currently treated at 251 social welfare departments countrywide. It also found that 142 reports of violence were filed by social workers over the past year, with clients growing increasingly frustrated at the social services departments' lack of resources. The report recommended that at least 1,000 new social worker positions be created.