Day Cares in Israel Remain Closed as Caregivers Strike Over Low Wages

Na’amat chairwoman blames 'the insulting conduct of the Finance Ministry' for the financial issues that effects some 1,400 government-supervised day care centers

File photo: The play area of a day care in Israel.
Ilan Assayag

The school year at the country’s government-supervised day care centers didn’t open on schedule on Sunday due to a strike, which is due to continue on Monday over the level of government support for the day care centers. The funds in dispute would be used in part to increase the compensation paid to caregivers at the day care centers and increasing the number of caregivers.

Late last week, just prior to the staled opening of the day care centers, negotiations between the representatives of the organizations that run the day care center networks and the government broke down. By press time, no new negotiating session was scheduled, making it apparently inevitable that the strike at the day care centers will continue at least into Monday.

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The strike affects 1,400 day care facilities that are supervised and regulated by the government, including those run by the Na’amat, WIZO and Emunah women’s organizations. It does not affect privately run facilities. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 preschool-age children ranging in age from infants to 3-year-olds attend the day care centers affected.

Na’amat chairwoman Galia Wolloch.
Dudu Bachar

Early childhood education is supervised by the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry and not the Education Ministry. The Finance Ministry initially sought to obtain a restraining order that would have barred the organizations running the day care facilities from staging a strike, but Labor Ministry Haim Katz refused to go along with the move.

Na’amat chairwoman Galia Wolloch has called on Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to intervene. “The insulting conduct of the Finance Ministry is continuing,” she said, cancelling a meeting just before it was to be held. “This is more proof that the Finance Ministry does not intend to resolve the crisis and instead is only occupying itself with twisting arms and issuing restraining orders at the expense of the parents, the children and the caregivers.”