Social workers' strike - Emil Salman
Social workers demonstrating last week in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem. Photo by Emil Salman
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Thousands of Israelis gathered Sunday outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem to demand the government improve terms of employment for social workers, bringing professionals from the field in day 22 of their strike.

The demonstration marked a resumption of public protest for the social workers, students and their supporters after a relative lull over recent days.

For much of their strike, hundreds of social workers had been holding daily demonstrations and using Facebook to protest and rally support against the terms being negotiated by representatives of the union umbrella organization and the Finance Ministry.

Last week, the Social Workers' Union rejected the compromise wage agreement worked out between the Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry, sending the parties back to the bargaining table and preventing an end to the strike.

The central committee of the union voted against the contract offer 14 to 13.

The offer the union rejected included a monthly pay raise of NIS 1,100, introduced in four stages over a period of three years and representing a salary increase of 25 percent on average, as well as a one-time NIS 2,000 bonus that is part of the comprehensive wage agreement for all state employees signed in November.

In addition, local authorities were supposed to hire a total of 50 additional social workers, and the work week of full-time social workers was to increase from 39 to 40.5 hours.

Social workers employed by nonprofit organizations in the wake of the privatization of government services were to be guaranteed a monthly salary of no less than NIS 6,000.

To ensure that state funds allocated to these NGOs for the purposes of raising salaries are not diverted for other purposes, it was agreed that the state would monitor the organizations via financial reports, unscheduled visits and contractual committee.