MKs unanimously approve raising their salaries

Salaries to increase to NIS 40,891; parliamentary assistants protest salaries, working conditions.

The Knesset 390 (R) (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
The Knesset 390 (R)
(photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
One day before a planned general strike by the Histadrut labor federation over contract workers, the Knesset House Committee on Tuesday voted to give MKs a monthly raise of almost NIS 1,200, as well as a one-time payment of almost NIS 15,000.
MKs’ salaries are raised according to increases in the country’s average salary. In 2008, the increase was 3.3 percent. In 2009 there was a freeze.
The freeze remained in effect until now, although in 2010 a public panel that determines MK salaries recommended that legislators receive another 3.3% raise, which came to NIS 1,191 per month, with the updated monthly salary being NIS 40,891.
The eight MKs attending Tuesday’s House Committee meeting, all of whom were from the coalition, voted in favor of the raise.
MKs will also receive a one-time payment totaling NIS 14,995, representing a retroactive raise for January 2012 and all of 2011.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told the House Committee that in 1996 the Knesset established the panel to determine MK salaries, and that the committee had to accept its decisions. He added that his opinion would be the same even if the panel had suggested lower salaries.
According to Rivlin, MKs should make enough money so as to avoid the temptation to take bribes and should remain “free from outside influences.”
As this was taking place, parliamentary aides were saying they will protest their own work conditions, with the Parliamentary Assistants Committee planning to launch a campaign to raise salaries.
Aides, including spokespersons, receive NIS 7,000 per month. They point out, however, that spokespersons of Knesset committees, who are employed by the Knesset Spokesman’s office, are paid NIS 12,000 and get a car.
According to the Parliamentary Assistants Committee, the public panel on MK salaries recommended that assistants receive a raise as long as they commit to working full-time and not seek additional employment. The aides voted overwhelmingly in favor of the recommendation, although the panel did not officially submit it to the House Committee because the panel members sought a consensus by MKs on the matter.
Knesset House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) opposes the recommendation and says he will not approve raises beyond the figure for the national average – which the assistants already received for 2012. In addition, he does not believe a public committee should be able to tell MKs what the terms of their assistants’ employment should be.
Rivlin preferred not to comment on the issue, although his office said the Knesset speaker did not oppose holding discussions on the assistants’ work conditions.