As part of the current struggle against the widespread employment of subcontracted workers, the treasury was quoted saying, "It's inconceivable that every computer person and every cleaner and maintenance worker would become a state employee" (TheMarker, October 30 . One of those cliched remarks from the "it's inconceivable" family.
Why? Why is it inconceivable that every computer worker who works day after day, year after year, in the same government office not be a state employee, just like the budget director? Actually, why not?
I asked treasury officials this question and was told that the state doesn't know how to manage cleaning workers and to give services, that the public service is too complicated to protect us from politicization and because of this its management is very complex and in short - it's not practicable.
During our army service we learned that there's no such thing as "cannot," only will not. "Not practicable?" The people who know how to manage the largest budgets in the country don't know how to manage cleaning workers?
Say that it's not profitable, that it's not worth it, that we prefer to invest in other things, even if the result is exploitation and inequality. But "we don't know how?"
"We use the knowledge and experience of the private sector to handle these things," the treasury said. But the knowledge and experience of the private sector is exploitation.
So now the treasury is willing to admit that this method has gone a bit too far, and is willing to set slightly higher salaries for all 300,000 workers - not to say slaves - and make some vague commitments about somewhat improving their conditions. But the government is not ready to sign a collective work agreement with these workers or grant them tenure, and certainly does not see them as worth the same as state employees.
The comment "It's inconceivable that every computer person and every cleaning and maintenance worker would turn into a state employee," reflects the assumption of inequality between people and between workers. No way should a cleaning worker have the status and conditions of a state employee.
The contempt for the people in these trades; the obviousness that some people have no right to have rights. And what began with the employment terms of cleaning workers now applies to a third of the social workers, to some 15,000 teachers, and to numerous university scholars and high-tech workers.
Leaving aside the fact that higher education in Israel provides no assurance of a secure and respectable living, even if everyone had a PhD, someone would always have to clean up after us. These are hard jobs, which also require knowledge and skills, and these jobs should be worthwhile and respected. Just as sanitation workers enjoy a high status, because the garbage they collect pays well in money and job security.
In the Alice Miller case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Israel Air Force had to open its flight school to women, Justice Dalia Dorner noted that "equality costs money." That's the whole point - to have the money divided equally. The state is the one that makes the laws, and is also the biggest employer in the economy. It is obligated to serve as an example of fair employment. The state must find the money for this.
The state must also forbid by law the use of subcontractors for full-time, permanent jobs. Those who hire people must take responsibility for them. If you don't know how to do this, go home. We'll get someone who does.
Where there's a will, there's a way. Saying "it's inconceivable" means the will isn't there yet.
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