Yishai May Force Sderot Workers Back on the Job

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Eli Yishai, signed an order yesterday that allows the ministry to force workers in essential factories to show up for work - even during periods of Qassam rocket attacks. The actual decision on whether to require specific workers to appear for work must be made by the minister, or an official he appoints, in coordination with the defense establishment.

The order relies on the section of labor law in emergency periods that requires the continued functioning of essential industries such as the electric and water companies, food suppliers, welfare institutions, medical services, fire fighting, communications and local authorities.

However, workers from the region who have missed work due to the rocket attacks are not entitled to salary or compensation for their missed days, according to the law and existing collective bargaining agreements. Absence from work for a reason not related to the worker still does not require the employer to pay, according to Hilan Tech, which provides services for human resource management. This includes the present case where as a result of terror the state decides to relocate thousands and even pay for it.

Those hurt the most from the deterioration of the security situation are temporary workers who are paid per day. They are simply not paid for days when they do not show up. Those harmed less are regular salaried workers who are paid monthly wages, but they are still required to take these days as vacation. Those who do not have enough vacation remaining will find their wages docked for days missed.

In addition, in spite of the Defense Minister's announcement of a "special situation," this order in no way affects the employer-employee relationship and workers are still required to show up for work - or not get paid - in spite of the rockets. During the Second Lebanon War, employees were only compensated for lost workdays after the fact and as a result of the huge public pressure applied to do so.