Anarchy at the Israel Broadcasting Authority

Overtime for unworked hours, stand-by time for unavailable staff, and 3,300 extra vacation days taken.

IBA 224 (photo credit: )
IBA 224
(photo credit: )
Wednesday's report was not the first time the state comptroller has addressed flaws in the system of determining overtime and standby payments, as well as unauthorized vacation time, at the Israel Broadcasting Authority. The state comptroller stopped short of using the word "corruption" in criticizing the IBA's paying out millions of shekels for work that was never done and for stand-bys in which workers were absent rather than present, as well as more vacation time taken than was allowed. However, the comptroller failed to mention that IBA employees deemed to earn unduly low base salaries - the majority - are "compensated" via overtime stand-by payments and additional vacation days, even though management may be aware that the workers did not do overtime and that people who reported being on stand-by were not actually on hand in case they were needed. But the comptroller does note that management was lax in its control and supervision. According to the report, when management introduced new rules in an effort to create greater transparency and control, workers tended to ignore them. When time clocks were installed so that staff could punch in cards when coming or going, hardly anyone used them. When management insisted that workers report in writing to their supervisors when entering and leaving the building, and that these reports be signed by supervisors on a daily basis, such instructions were also ignored. When employees took more vacation time than was set down in the collective agreement, their salaries were not docked by management. The reason that the state comptroller has looked into these matters yet again, is because the IBA is making an effort to introduce new rules and regulations integral to the reforms that it intends to implement. Reforming the IBA and revising the Broadcasting Authority Law has been on the agenda for a long time. The current IBA Law has been in force since 1965. According to the IBA Law, article 24, conditions regarding salaries are parallel to those of state employees, other than in cases of private contracts or people at senior management level who receive global salaries that encompass a number of extras that are constant and are therefore not calculated on an hourly basis. The overtime and standby sheets that were signed by department heads and supervisors were never signed on a daily basis, but on a monthly basis. IBA employees in senior executive positions are supposed to sign in when they arrive at work. In September 2008, the state comptroller looked at a notebook containing the names of 37 people in managerial positions at Israel Television. Of the 37, only 12 had obeyed the rules and had signed in. While management has definitely made an effort to repair some of the flaws in the system, it has not yet done enough, the comptroller's report notes, and what still remains to be done is of a very critical nature.