Injured Workers Suffer the Consequences of National Insurance Sanctions

The sanctions, which began informally seven years ago as part of a labor dispute, affect only claims filed for workplace injury compensation payments.

National Insurance Institute employees are refusing to process worker's compensation claims, as part of labor sanctions declared five years ago at the government agency.

The sanctions, which began informally seven years ago, affect only claims filed for workplace injury compensation payments, known colloquially as "Article 17."

The issue came to light most recently in connection to the case of Dr. Michael Shein, a persistent veterinarian from Rehovot.

After Shein was gored in the knee by a cow in 2008 he was awarded a disability rating of 20% by the National Insurance Institute. The same year he tried to return to work but found that the injury prevented him from doing so. When he tried to apply for worker's compensation payments the NII clerk told Shein his claim would not be processed due to employee sanctions. Several months later Shein reapplied on two occasions.

The veterinarian's next move was to appeal to the office of Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon. Shein received the following response from NII director Shlomo Mor-Yosef, who repeated what the clerks had told him: "Due to labor sanctions by the NII's national union, we are not handling claims related to Article 17."

Mor-Yosef recommended that Shein and others in his situation try going through the courts instead. "In specific cases where the court orders the NII to process an Article 17 claim it does so," Mor-Yosef said. He noted that discussions with the union and the Histadrut labor federation were continuing.

Uri Alperin, who represents NII employees in the Histadrut, said the workers were demanding an increase in personnel to process Article 17 claims. "They can't overload the workers with tasks, including processing Article 17 claims, without adding personnel or paying more," Alperin said.