Israeli social workers end 17-day strike

Finance Ministry and social workers agree to increased wages, budget for protection programs.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s striking social workers reached a deal with the Finance Ministry Wednesday, bringing an end to the 17-day walkout that had severely affected social services.

The Israel Union of Social Workers agreed to a new wage deal that includes 200 million shekels ($58 million) for salary raises beginning in July 2021, followed by a second round of pay increases at a later date with details to be negotiated, Ynet reported.

The two sides also agreed to add budgets for protection programs and a future salary bonus of up to 11,000 shekels ($3,215) bonus for each social worker in 2021.

The agreement has to be approved by the government, but that is expected to happen by early next week.

For years the social workers have complained about low pay, high workloads and a constant exposure to violence due to the nature of their work. The union decided to strike after the two sides had failed to reach a deal for better working conditions in protracted negotiations.

“We won,” said social worker union chairperson Inbal Hermoni.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said the agreement “will not leave anyone behind.”

“We agreed on historic steps that will change the status of the [social] workers and will enable them to continue their dedicated work under conditions befitting the task they have taken upon themselves,” Katz said.

The chairman of the Histadrut national labor federation threatened earlier this week that additional public sector workers would strike in solidarity, pressurong Katz to reach a deal.

“This new agreement helps safeguard the rights of a dedicated working community that works day and night to reach out to all people in need,” said Arnon Bar-David.