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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that the government is willing to raise minimum wage, but only for "people who really earn minimum wage."

Earlier, Finance Ministry budget director Udi Nissan blamed Histadrut labor federation leader Ofer Eini for the fact that the minimum wage isn't increasing.

Nissan said the government was willing to increase the minimum wage, currently set at NIS 3,850 per month, but was not willing to pay a minimum wage that was "fiction."

Nissan was referring to public servants, many of whom officially earn minimum wage but in practice receive much more. Nissan did not want any increases to the minimum wage to affect these workers, but the Histadrut has refused to agree to this condition.

The government is truly ready to raise minimum wage, but the Histadrut does all its fighting over group labor agreements, and doesn't worry about the truly poor workers, said Nissan.

According to Finance Ministry data, there are 18,700 public servants who receive benefits in order to increase their salaries to the legal minimum. Of these people, 46% have managerial positions. This would imply that these 18,700 people actually earn less than the minimum, but in practice they earn an average of NIS 8,800 a month.

Not only is that well beyond the minimum wage, it's more than the average wage, too.

They receive on average NIS 552 shekels in order to bring their official salary up to the minimum wage, even though in practice, they already receive 130% more than it, as extra payments for seniority, overtime, convalescence pay, grants and expenses are all added in.

None of these are included in their base salary, which is the measure used to determine whether they receive more or less than minimum wage.

In practice, only 5% of these workers actually earn less than NIS 5,000 a month; 35% earn NIS 6,000 to NIS 8,000, and 31% earn more than NIS 10,000.

The Histadrut spokesman said in response that the increase to minimum wage would be for all workers.