Treasury agrees to central social workers demand

Union representatives respond, say it was a theoretical offer in talks; not clear if funds exist; strike enters fifth day.

Social workers protest in the North 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Social workers protest in the North 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen on Thursday announced that the ministry has agreed to one of the social workers' central demands, to match their salaries and those of workers in the non-profit sector.
As of Thursday, social workers were in the fifth day of a strike over wages. Negotiations have thus far not been fruitful.
RELATED:5,000 social workers rally in capital amid negotiationsEditorial: Help social workers do their job
Representatives of the social workers union said in response that the statement represented only "theoretical" discussions raised during talks. They added that it needs to be verified that funds for such a proposal actually exist and that it could be implemented.
Wednesday night, yet another round of talks between social workers and the Finance Ministry came to an abrupt end after the sides failed to reach agreement on a wage hike for social workers employed by NGOs.
Social Workers Union spokesman David Golan told The Jerusalem Post that while the Finance Ministry proposed a minimum wage of NIS 6,000 for these employees, it offered no mechanisms to ensure that the state-funded NGOs would indeed pay such salaries.
“We cannot agree to that, and are forced to enter the fifth day of our strike,” Golan said.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Union of Local Authorities chairman Shlomo Buhbut announced he would bring to his organization’s general assembly meeting on Thursday a resolution to launch a general strike.
The social workers’ strike is causing the municipalities to buckle under the pressure their absence has created, Buhbut explained.
The Wednesday night talks, which included Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon, Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen, and representatives of the Histadrut labor federation and the Social Workers Union, focused on mechanisms that would equalize the wages of social workers employed by NGOs that provide services outsourced to them by the state.
The Finance Ministry agreed on Tuesday to a dramatic increase in the salaries of some 5,000 social workers employed and paid by NGOs that receive state funding. There are another 10,000 social workers employed by the state and local authorities, whose conditions are currently somewhat better than those working for the NGOs.
Talks on the wages and working conditions of those employed by the state have yet to begin.