NII target of most complaints in 2005

The National Insurance Institute was by far the target of the most complaints filed by the public against government ministries and public institutions, according to the semi-annual State Comptroller's Report for 2005. A total of 692 complaints were filed against the NII compared to the runner-up, the police department, with 471. Lagging far behind, among the rest of the top 10, were the Finance Ministry (301), the Interior Ministry (300), the Justice Ministry (293), the Courts Administration (269), the Education Ministry (246), the Municipality of Tel Aviv (205), the Construction and Housing Ministry (202), and the Transportation Ministry (175). Among the many complaints amassed against the NII was one involving insurance money owed to foreign workers. Kav La'oved, a humanitarian organization which advocates for foreign workers, complained to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that the National Insurance Institute did not pay the full maternity stipend owed to two Filipino workers. The NII was only prepared to pay a stipend corresponding to the women's salaries, which were below minimum wage. Kav La'oved cited the National Insurance Institute Law, which states that in case a worker's salary is below the minimum wage, the NII pays the difference. Once again, the NII refused to pay. It claimed that because the employer of one of the Filipino women had died (the other woman had left the country), the NII would not be able to get reimbursement for the extra money it would be paying her. Kav La'oved then submitted a complaint to the comptroller, who ruled it was justified. He found that the NII clerks had not been aware of the law and had assumed that if the employer had paid a salary that was less than the minimum wage, it must have been for less than a full-time job. In fact, the woman involved in that case had worked a full shift. The public submitted a total of 7,825 complaints to the Comptroller's Office in 2005, compared with 6,840 in 2004 and 6,129 in 2003, representing an increase of 27.7 percent since 2003. In addition to the complaints that came in over the year, Lindenstrauss's office also had to finish handling those left over from the year before. Thus, the Comptroller's Office dealt with a total of 10,267 complaints in 2005. Of the total, it managed to complete work on 6,649 complaints, or 64.8% of the total. The rest had to be held over for 2006. Of the complaints dealt with last year, a final decision was reached on 3,451 (49%) of them. As for the rest, the Comptroller's Office rejected 1,573 immediately and stopped investigating 1,888 others in midstream for a variety of reasons. The office found that 32.7% of the complaints for which investigations were completed last year were justified. The figure was part of a trend over the past few years in which a smaller proportion of complaints have been found to be justified. In 2002, the figure was 36.5%, compared to 35.7% in 2003 and 33.9% in 2004.