Cabinet approves employment quota for disabled people in civil service

Move satisfies one of three Histadrut demands ahead of planned strike.

Disabled teen  (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Disabled teen
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
The cabinet approved a proposal on Sunday to promote the employment of people with disabilities within the civil service, satisfying one of three Histadrut demands ahead of a threatened general strike.
“This is a law of social justice, a humane law of the highest order, and it shows people with disabilities that in fact these disabilities do not limit them from participating as equal members and contributors in the public service of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
The proposal, backed by Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and the Civil Service Commission, seeks to guarantee that the disabled population will receive no less than three percent representation in civil service jobs by the year 2017.
At the end of this time period, the proposal calls to reevaluate further increasing participation by an additional two percent gradually by the year 2019.
“This is exciting for all of us, this is meaningful for all of us, this is the kind of thing that we want to do,” Lapid said at the cabinet meeting.
The Civil Service Commission in coordination with the Finance, Economy and Justice Ministers and the Commission for Equal Rights for Disable Persons is set to publish detailed instructions regarding the decision for employers with 45 days.
"This is a tremendous step forward in ensuring Israel has a more equitable workforce and I commend the Israeli Government for their leadership on this matter,” Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“We know that people with disabilities make up about twenty percent of Israel's population and are unemployed at the rate of seventy percent. No fair and just society should be content to allow this inequity to continue and the Israeli Government has begun to correct this inequity in the public sector,” he said.
Earlier this year Economy Minister Naftali Bennett signed an agreement expanding the employment of people with disabilities in the private sector.  The agreement required all workplaces with over 100 workers to employ disabled people totaling three percent of their total employees.
Changing the government’s hiring policy for disabled people was one of three central issues the Histadrut put at the center of a labor dispute that could lead to a general strike next Sunday, December 7.
Less progress has been made on the other two issues: raising the minimum wage and improving conditions for government-hired contract workers.
“The government’s decision fixes a terrible injustice,” Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissankoren said before noting that the other issues must be resolved if a strike is to be averted.
Negotiations over the minimum wage continued Sunday after fruitless meetings at the end of last week. The Histadrut wants minimum wages to rise from NIS 4,300 a month to NIS 5,300 a month. While business groups such as the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce have agreed in principle to raising the wage to NIS 5,000 over time, the Finance Ministry still has concerns over public sector workers.
Because of a series of benefits and incentives, some government workers ostensibly earning the minimum wage end up taking home as much as NIS 11,000 a month, more than the national average. Such workers should be excluded from minimum wage hikes, the ministry argues, noting that failure to do so would raise the budgetary cost from NIS 1.5 billion to NIS 4.5 billion.
If the Histadrut strikes as promised, it will close, among other things, the airport, sea ports, schools, public transportation, and government offices.
Noting the economy’s poor third quarter showing, largely due to the summer war with Hamas in Gaza, Finance Minister Yair Lapid implored the HIstadrut not to embark on a strike that could stilt the rebound expected in the fourth quarter
Meanwhile, the Histadrut called another labor dispute Sunday at Ness technologies.