Israel Delays Decision on Bonuses for Security Personnel in Favor of Talks

Netanyahu sought to pass a resolution that the security forces are ineligible to receive a bonus for 'lack of job security' – despite the linkage between their salary and the salary of standing army personnel

Israeli border police officers run toward Palestinians during a raid to al-Amari refugee camp, in Ramallah in the West Bank May 28, 2018.
REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The cabinet on Wednesday discussed the wage dispute with representatives of the Israel Police, Israel Prison Service, Mossad and the Shin Bet security service, but did nothing more than decide to hold negotiations involving the relevant ministries for 45 days to resolve the problem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to pass a resolution that the security forces are ineligible to receive a bonus for “lack of job security” – despite the linkage between their salary and the salary of standing army personnel, who have received a similar bonus since 2016. The declaration was rejected due to worker protests and opposition by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Officials in the Finance Ministry vehemently object to the bonus, even though labor courts have ruled that workers are entitled to it. The Finance Ministry asserts that state coffers would incur a one-time cost of 7 billion shekels ($1.94 billion) for the bonuses, and ongoing expenses of hundreds of millions of shekels a year thereafter.

Erdan tweeted, “I am very happy the government adopted my position and decided to hold negotiations for the next for 45 days,” which will involve the Public Security Ministry, the police and the Israel Prison Service and the treasury.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said, “I decided with the prime minister and the public security minister to enter intensive, 45-day negotiations to resolve the problem of police and security force pensioners.”

The bonus that career officers and NCOs in the army received for “lack of job security” ranged from 1.3% to 7.3%. The argument for it was that the army is authorized to move them between jobs and bases as it pleases, as well as to terminate their positions in the wake of cuts. The bonus was also given to army retirees because they were linked then to the salary of active-duty members, even though job security was irrelevant to them.

When members of the Mossad, Shin Bet, police and prison service discovered this bonus, they asserted that it amounted to a standard bonus. Thus they demanded it too, given the linkage of their salaries to that of professional soldiers. When the treasury refused, the case went to the labor courts.

There are two cases going through the courts, one for the police and prison service workers, and one for the Mossad and Shin Bet agents. The state lost both cases at the regional level and the Mossad case at the national level. The state court is now considering the case with the police and prison workers.