Tax Authority Workers Demand Huge Raise

YERUSHALAYIM -
A sign leading to the Tax Authorities offices, Bank of Israel and Land Administration offices in Yerushalayim. (Flash90)

Tax Authority workers are the best paid civil servants in Israel – and now they want more. And if they don’t get it, they are likely to strike, say sources in the workers’ union.

The background for the possible strike is a demand for a 38-percent salary increase to help workers “cope” with a project that seeks to unify various computer systems in different departments of the Tax Authority. As a result of the program, workers will be able to provide more efficient services to taxpayers, while tax collectors will have an easier time locating assets for collection.

The 38-percent increase would be spread out over the next five to seven years, at a total cost of NIS 450 million a year, over the NIS 1.2 billion already paid out in salaries for the 6,000 Tax Authority workers. Workers got a 7.5-percent salary increase last year, making them on average the best paid civil servants in Israel. Workers for the Tax Authority with a college degree currently earn on average NIS 16,120, compared to NIS 13,511 in other civil service jobs – a gap of 19 percent in favor of Authority workers – while at 29 percent, the gap between non-graduates in the Authority, who earn NIS 15,489 on average, and non-Authority workers, who make NIS 11,971, is greater.

The Finance Ministry thinks that the demand is “excessive,” if not “ridiculous,” sources in the government said. Currently, talks are revolving around a “temporary” 10-percent salary increase, which will allow for negotiations to continue, the sources said. But negotiations are at a standstill, sources close to the talks told TheMarker, and it is just a matter of time before a work dispute, and then a strike, is declared.

According to union spokespersons, the demands are justified because the new computer system will impact on the way work schedules are set up, and which workers will have to fill in specific slots. The loss of flexibility in these areas justifies the salary increases, the spokespersons said.