The Workers Advice Center (WAC-Ma’an) unequivocally supports the social workers in their strike for improved employment terms. Their struggle highlights the distorted employment policies in Israel during the last 25 years. These policies are guided by a neo-liberal worldview which sees the organization of workers as a grave impediment which must be banished from society and the economy. At the center of the social workers’ struggle is the demand that employment terms for those employed via private NGOs and manpower agencies – about one third of all social workers (some 5,000 of 17,000) – be made equal to those employed directly by the Welfare Ministry and are thus public sector employees.
The social workers’ union and the Histadrut are currently in negotiation with the Finance Ministry and Welfare Ministry. Unlike previous negotiations in other sectors, during which workers remained at home, in this case we are witness to massive mobilization which has brought supporters out onto the streets, thus empowering those negotiating in their name.
The extensive public support for the social workers’ strike reflects the fact that an increasing number of people in Israel are opposed to the way society and the economy are being managed. During the last couple of decades, we have seen governments serve a small group of tycoons while leaving peripheral populations without fair employment, health services or decent education, and with little hope of reasonable housing.
The Workers Advice Center organizes truck drivers, staff in private educational institutions, agricultural laborers, manpower agency workers and employees in other sectors. What these workers have in common with the social workers is their unfair employment terms. Despite differences between Jews and Arabs, men and women, we are all equal in the face of predatory capitalism. In this system, profit is profit, and it doesn’t matter how it is generated.
The social workers’ strike is the strike of all exploited and marginalized workers in Israel. The Workers Advice Center joins all those who call for a change in the state’s priorities, change which will place the workers at the center and enable all to live in dignity.
We are all with the social workers!