Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday declared his intent to create a committee for investigating the working conditions of ministerial bodyguards, as a result of the recent labor conflict initiated by the guards.
Roughly two weeks ago, the Labor Courts prohibited a security personnel strike, which has led to reports that some bodyguards are considering quitting.
Most government ministers are protected by the security company “Mikud,” which was recently awarded an additional contract to continue protecting government ministers. The security work is done with supervision from the Shin Bet’s personal protection unit.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver raised the subject in a government meeting yesterday. “The working conditions for security personnel are inappropriate. Perhaps we don’t need to employ bodyguards for every minister, but until a different decision is reached, the bodyguards must have humane working conditions,” said Landver to Netanyahu.
The bodyguards - unionized within the Histadrut Labor Federation – claim that their employment conditions are illegal, as they work twelve shifts per month that can reach 70 consecutive hours of work. With a salary of 22 shekels per hour, bodyguards do not reach the monthly minimum salary, and they do not receive overtime pay for weekends, but only for holidays.
In a recent debate within the Labor, Welfare and Health committee of the Knesset, several bodyguards spoke out. “Our salary has remained the same for four and a half years, without compensation for commuting. There are no significant improvements in the new contract awarded to ‘Mikud,’ “ claimed one of the guards.
Another guard added “On top of it all, we are required to undergo training 17 days a year without additional pay, and we must pass a grueling, twelve week training course. We don’t get to close our eyes at night, as we escort ministers to meetings at all hours.”
Even though court orders prohibited a strike, some security personnel have reported that they are considering quitting over working under the difficult conditions. Gal Gorodetsky, a lawyer representing 81 of the bodyguards, filed a claim in the name of the guards last august, and has yet to receive a statement from the government.
“The basic rights of the bodyguards are completely ignored – they receive a salary that does not correspond with the law, and they aren’t paid for overtime” said Gorodetsky.
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