Labor Relations 'Via Dialogue', Not Strikes

"The minimum wage cannot be allowed to remain at its current level," Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh told a recent convention of leading socioeconomic figures, held in Eilat last weekend. "A person in Israel cannot subsist on NIS 3,335 per month, so [minimum wage] must gradually be raised."

Brosh was speaking on a labor relations, panel along with the Histadrut labor federation's new chairman, Ofer Eini. The convention was one more stage in the strengthening of MAI-Histadrut ties since the reforms were instituted at the ports last year, without a strike. Brosh and Eini said that they oppose the solution of labor disputes in Israel via legislation or court orders, and want to reach understandings via collective agreements. The two announced that the association and the Histadrut will set up a joint committee to handle disputes between workers and employees, "so that the economy will suffer as little as possible from strikes and disruptions."

Eini praised the MAI under Brosh's leadership, "which has become relevant because it has stopped automatically supporting the government's stance in disputes between the association and the labor unions." He continued, "Labor relations will be handled via dialogue and not via legislation, which creates a dependence on the political game. I will do everything to prevent strikes, but will struggle with all my might for better work conditions."

Brosh told participants that the average wage at industrial plants is almost three times minimum wage, and can total as much as NIS 9,500 - NIS 2,000 more than the average wage in Israel. "We need to enforce labor laws in general," added Brosh, "and the minimum wage law in particular. A factory that does not pay its employees minimum wage harms other businesses and the rules of fair competition, because it works under unequal conditions."

"Wage supplements must also be properly arranged," he said, "to prevent a situation in which the wage recorded on the pay slip is NIS 2,000, while the gross wage is listed as NIS 7,000." Brosh noted that industrialists are also concerned about Israel's social problems, which have prompted the association to transfer a few dozen factories from the central region to the Negev and the Galilee, in order to reduce unemployment.