Israeli Social Workers Protest in Jerusalem Over Poor Employment Conditions

Ongoing strike over low wages and heavy workloads could affect some 1.5 million people using social services, as demand rises amid the coronavirus crisis

Lee Yaron
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Demonstrators in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Demonstrators in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, July 13, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Lee Yaron

More than 1,000 striking social workers demonstrated Monday night outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem against their low wages, heavy workloads and the violence they face.

LISTEN: Protests, pandemics and Netanyahu's day of reckoningCredit: Haaretz

Social workers went on strike over these issues eight days ago and said they are prepared to remain on strike for months if necessary, due to the treasury’s “ongoing disregard” of their complaints. Unofficial talks are taking place between the sides, but the social workers haven’t yet met with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz.

Demonstrators in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Demonstrators in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, July 13, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

Due to the strike, all social services offered through the social affairs, health and education ministries, the local authorities, National Insurance Institute and other government agencies have been canceled, and welfare agencies aren’t opening any new cases. The strike is expected to affect 1.5 million people using these services.

“The Finance Ministry doesn’t care about Israel’s social services or the problems of Israeli society, especially during the coronavirus era,” said Inbal Hermoni, who heads the social workers union. “They think social workers, who earn 6,000 shekels ($1,700) a month, should be grateful that they have work.”

The strike, she added, is aimed at “obtaining a fair labor agreement that will save Israel’s social services.”

On Sunday, the head of the treasury’s budgets department, Shaul Meridor, said in response to the strike that “talking about raises in any part of the public sector today is irrelevant.”

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