Steinitz: 'Social Workers strike no longer justified'

Strike continues as union rejects Finance Ministry offer; Histadrut drops out of future negotiations, saying it has conjured best possibility.

Social Workers 311 (photo credit: RUTH EGLASH)
Social Workers 311
(photo credit: RUTH EGLASH)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on that if Social Workers "strike for one more minute, it is not justified," in a Monday interview with Israel Radio, as social workers across Israel continued to strike for a third week.
The Social Workers Union announced they will continue their strike Monday, after rejecting Sunday an offer submitted by the Finance Ministry regarding the employment conditions of workers.
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Steinitz added that The Social Workers Union and the Finance Ministry came to an agreement, and that the strike is harming "tens of thousands of people who need the social workers' services.
He also said that to Finance Ministry went out of its way to accommodate the striking social workers.
Thirty representatives from the union held a meeting and decided on Sunday to vote against ending the strike, which entered its third week
The Histadrut reportedly told social workers that the agreement reached with the Finance Ministry was the best that the Histadrut could conjure, and that the social workers from now would be working with the Finance Ministry in direct negotiations.
Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon called on the social workers Sunday to show a sense of responsibility and end the strike, saying that the true victims of the strike are the nearly 1.5 million people in need of welfare services, Israel Radio reported. He added that the agreement formulated by the Finance Ministry greatly improves employment conditions for socials workers.
Saturday night, nearly 300 social workers demonstrated in Tel Aviv at the intersection of Ibn Gabirol and Arlozorov streets.
The protesters briefly blocked the intersection and faced police threats of arrests.
Last week, Union head Itzik Perry detailed what appeared to be the outlines of the agreement. The 5,000 social workers employed by NGOs funded by the state will be now earning at least NIS 7,100, which is the average wage of a state-employed social worker with five years of experience.
Social workers employed directly by the state or municipalities number approximately 10,000, and the sides have already agreed on a raise of their wages by an average of 25 percent, including in it the 7.25% raise all state employees received last December, and another NIS 1,100. The social workers will also see a 2% raise in the money allocated by their employers for pensions and social benefits, from 17.5% to 19.5%, and receive a one-time grant of NIS 2,000.