Israel's daycare center workers ended on Thursday their five-day strike protesting low wages, after an agreement was reached with the finance and economy ministries.
The daycare centers will receive a one-time budget supplement that will be transferred to the caregivers as a grant or as a temporary salary increase. Also, for the first time in nine years, the Finance Ministry agreed to renegotiate raising the daycare centers’ prices, which will increase their overall income.
Despite a 20-percent increase in public sector wages, the current budget doesn't include certain expenses that have accrued over time, lowering daycare workers' income closer to minimum wage, said the daycare center operators.
"This led to about a third of the daycare centers workers quitting at the end of the first year,” said Liora Minka, chairwoman of Emunah, which operates some 120 centers countrywide. “Many of them find work in municipal preschool centers."
Unlike kindergartens, which are under the Education Ministry’s responsibility, the daycare workers are not employed by the state but by the organizations operating the centers. These organizations – WIZO, Naamat, Emunah and Herut Women – demanded the Finance Ministry increase the budget by raising tuition or by a state budget increment, to make the workers’ wages equal to those of pre-schools the Education Ministry is responsible for.
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The finance and economy ministries and the Israel Teachers' Union said the sides had agreed that a joint price committee will examine the price and the operators’ arguments about the workers’ pay, the number of workers in relation to the number of toddlers, and other issues. The sides also agreed that the Finance Ministry and operators would soon examine a temporary solution.