Lifeguard strike ends, but no deal

Union of Local Authorities: Offer of NIS 1 per hour raise for rookie lifeguards is final.

Herzliya beach 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Herzliya beach 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A brief strike by lifeguards ended on Sunday morning even though no agreement had been reached between their union and the National Union of Local Authorities. Following a weekend during which five people drowned on Israel's beaches as the lifeguards left their stations two hours before the end of their shifts, Dan Ben-Chaim, in charge of salary agreements at the Union of Local Authorities, told The Jerusalem Post that the Union's offer of a NIS 1 per hour raise for rookie lifeguards was final. "We believe we have offered the lifeguards the maximum increase for their salaries and we have no plans to continue and offer more than we have already done. Unlike how they appear in the media - as workers who earn NIS 19.5 per hour - they receive an additional NIS 5 per hour for every hour they work, and since during the bathing season they work 11 hours a day, this addition is significant. They also receive a daily allowance for food and other allowances that aren't included in the hourly rate," Ben-Chaim said. He said the offer actually represented "a total increase of 20 percent to their salaries," without going into details. Histadrut Labor Federation spokesman Eyal Malma told the Post this weekend's labor sanctions were meant as a warning and that the battle was not over. According to the Histadrut, local councils employ 360 lifeguards at 120 stations. About half of the lifeguards earn NIS 19.5 an hour; many require National Insurance Institute supplements to reach the monthly minimum wage. "The young lifeguards receive NIS 13 a day for food expenses and they are not allowed to eat away from the stations so they must buy their food at the expensive kiosks on the beaches. They also don't receive breaks, even when they work 12 hours a day," said Arnon Bar-David, chair of the Histadrut's clerical workers. The Interior Ministry said Sunday that since the opening of the bathing season on April 19, 20 people have drowned at the beaches. Most of the deaths occurred at unofficial beaches or during hours when there were no lifeguard services.