Majority of MKs Back Raising Hourly Minimum Wage to $8.68

Sixty-one lawmakers out of 120 already support Dov Khenin’s campaign for at least 30 shekels an hour.

Oren Nachshon

A majority of Knesset members support a proposal that would raise the minimum wage to 30 shekels an hour ($8.68), up from the current 23.12 shekels an hour ($6.56). The proposal, initiated by Hadash MK Dov Khenin, has already received support from 2 million people online.

The proposal was brought to the Knesset this week, and 61 Knesset members from both the coalition and the opposition signed on as initiators of the bill, which was submitted yesterday.

Tomorrow is the international day for raising minimum wage, an initiative that started among United States food industry workers. In Israel, campaigners are expected to take to the streets.

Khenin said the broad, cross-party support for the proposal indicated that MKs had heard the public’s call in favor of his proposal, which he publicized a month ago. Khenin took on the campaign after it was formulated by worker-rights group Koach La Ovdim.

Israel’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in the West. In the U.S., President Barack Obama is working to boost minimum wage to $10 an hour, while in many states campaigns are in the works to raise it to at least $15. Next week, Switzerland is holding a referendum on raising its minimum wage to $25 an hour.

“There’s no reason that in Israel so many workers should be under the poverty line,” said Khenin. “There’s no justification for people going to work from morning to evening and not being able to support their families. The scare tactics regarding attempts to raise the minimum wage are baseless. In 2006 [the last time the minimum wage was up for discussion] they also said that raising the wage would result in mass unemployment, but the opposite was the case − increasing the buying power of poorer workers increased economic activity.”