Minimum Wage Rises Again – But Not All Approve

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The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee has approved for its second and third reading a bill that will increase the minimum wage for Israeli workers. The approval came after a loud discussion, in which members of groups representing disabled Israelis – who themselves have been protesting almost daily for a raise in their stipends – protested the extension of the minimum wage increase to foreign workers who are involved in medical care and assistance.

The minimum wage for monthly workers will rise beginning January 2018 to NIS 5,300 ($1,515 at current exchange rates), NIS 300 from its current level, while the hourly wage will increase from NIS 26.9 to NIS 28.5 ($8.15). The single day rate for workers will increase to NIS 245 ($70) from NIS 231. The increase was approved by the Histadrut. The Finance Ministry estimates that the increase will cost employers between NIS 400 and 500 million.

According to Committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu), the change “brings Israel close to the center of OECD countries for minimum wage levels. Raising the minimum wage has a profound effect on the economy and raising people out of the poverty level. We will respect the stranger among us, and will raise the salaries for foreign workers.” Alalouf added that the minimum wage in Israel has increased by 23 percent in the past two and a half years.

The change was opposed by members of groups representing the disabled, because it will now cost them more money to employ a caretaker, said Yehuda Doron, head of the Israel Polio Victims organization. “Raising the minimum wage again will cause us to have to pay out an additional NIS 900 a month, while the best the government can do is promise us an increase in our stipends of NIS 300 a month – ‘soon.’ Now it will cost us over NIS 10,000 to employ a caretaker, while on average we get NIS 4,000 from the government. We will not accept this – we will close this country down, including the airport. I am on my way now to organize my fellow activists to immediately start shutting down major intersections.”