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Employment of workers hired through contractors and employment agencies rose by 10 percent during the first half of 2006 over the parallel 2005 period, ORS CEO Amos Luzon said late last week. The rise came despite public criticism of working conditions in this sector.

Growth came primarily in finance - banks, insurance companies and investment houses - following implementation of the Bachar reforms to divest the banks of their provident and mutual funds.

Another area experiencing fast growth through employment agencies, Luzon noted, was hi-tech and traditional factories that rely on temporary workers for technical, maintenance and administration fields.

ORS, one of the two largest employment agencies, hired an average of 5,281 workers per month during the first half of the year, compared to 4,938 in 2005. The total number of workers hired through employment agencies is estimated to be around 110,000, 5 percent of all employees in the country. That rate is one of the highest among developed countries.

Directors of companies with the largest employment agencies, Luzon said, put together a proposal according to which a temporary worker refered to a company would become a permanent worker after two years of employment.

This offer differs from the initiative of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who unsuccessfully called for a 9-month transition period.

ORS proposed to Histadrut labor federation Ofer Eini, Luzon added, that the Histadrut set up a complaint hotline for temporary workers, even offering to fund its operation. However, according to Luzon, the Histadrut did not make a decision on the matter.