Employers Upset by Nat'l Pension Plan

The employers' organizations are at loggerheads over agreements reached in coalition talks between Kadima and the Labor Party over compulsory pension plans.

Under these agreements, the government will pass a national pensions' law, which will ensure that every worker will have a regular pension upon retirement in addition to the National Insurance Institute old-age allowance.

The two parties, however, have not yet decided whether the pension payments will be based on the minimum wage, or on the worker's actual wage.

Manufacturers' Association president Shraga Brosh said yesterday that he opposes the legislation. "The institution of pensions for every worker should be done under a special collective bargaining agreement following negotiations between the unions and the employers," he said.

Such an agreement, he said, would take into account the difficulties of each sector, and would facilitate individual solutions for employers who can't afford to pay their part of the pension payments. The pension law is too universal and doesn't take individual cases into account."

Uriel Lynn, president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, said that he is in favor of the legislation. "The way to implement the idea of a compulsory pension for every worker, or preferably for every citizen, is only through legislation, because legislation will preserve the principle of uniformity and won't harm competition between employers."

Lynn said that the Manufacturers' Association prefers collective bargaining "because of its close ties with the Histadrut labor federation, which also has an interest that the pensions be implemented via collective bargaining, and not through legislation."

Zeev Wiener, president of Lahav, an umbrella organization for the self-employed, said that while he is in favor of the compulsory pension, "it is an idea that many employers cannot implement at this time." Wiener said that if employers are forced to pay their part of the pension payments, they will try to compensate themselves by lowering labor costs. There are two ways they could do this, he said. They can either fire workers, or cut their salaries.