strike - Moti Milrod - March 20 2011
Striking social workers. Photo by Moti Milrod
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The strike by 10,000 social workers in the public sector enters its third week today. The agreement among the Histradrut labor federation, the trade unions representing the social workers and the Finance Ministry is all but finalized, but the negotiators celebrated Purim on Friday instead of meeting. Representatives from the negotiating teams promised that the talks will resume tonight, after the end of the holiday.

Histadrut Trade Union Department head Avi Nissenkorn rejected complaints by some of the strikers, who noted that Purim is not an official holiday for all workers and pointed to the achievements of the all-but-completed new collective bargaining agreement. He noted that the two main goals of the strike were won: a significant wage hike for younger, lower-earner social workers, and the setting of a minimum wage threshold for social workers employed by nonprofit organizations that were formed in order to contract for the provision of social services to government agencies in the post-privatization era.

Negotiators are hoping to finalize at tonight's meeting the mechanism that will insure that government allocations to these NGOs intended to increase social workers' salaries do not get siphoned off to pay for executives' salaries or fancy cars.

The package, most of which was agreed several days ago, gives all social workers NIS 1,100 a month more in their pay slip as well as a number of other benefits, while increasing the full-time work week slightly.