Social Workers' Union threatens full-blown strike

Government called on to address the shortage of social workers in the field.

social worker protest 88 (photo credit: )
social worker protest 88
(photo credit: )
Sanctions imposed by the Social Workers' Union in recent months could develop into a full-blown strike Wednesday if demands on the government to address the shortage of social workers in the field are not immediately met, the union announced Tuesday. "It's been two months since we started our sanctions and the Finance Ministry and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry haven't even tried to solve the problem," said Yitzhak Perry, chairman of the union. The union will decide Wednesday morning whether to take more radical action. "They bide their time with nice words but in the meantime, thousands of people are not receiving services," he added. According to Perry, those affected by the current sanctions include children and youth at risk, elderly people waiting to be assigned to old-age homes, infants and young children who need to be placed in day care centers, and divorced couples that require supervised custody to visit their children. The union, which represents more than 7,000 ministry-appointed social workers and those from local municipalities, is demanding that thousands more social workers be hired in an attempt to ease case loads, which currently ranges from 200 to 400 files per worker. While the ministry has backed the union's demands, it claims not to have the budget for such a radical increase. "The union believes that the current set up hurts the entire welfare system and does not allow our workers to provide suitable treatment and follow-up care for the needy public," said Perry. In response, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry said that it was currently in dialogue with the treasury to solve the social worker shortage. "We are doing everything we can to reach a solution," a spokesperson for the ministry told The Jerusalem Post. A committee was established two weeks ago to assess the current system and its recommendations are expected in another two weeks, said the spokesperson. Last month, social workers and students protested outside the Finance Ministry claiming that growing socioeconomic gaps and rapid increases in the population have led to a surplus of case files while the number of social workers has remained the same. Following the protest, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said that his ministry was striving to find a solution to meet the demands of the social workers "who only want to provide better service to the public."