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MK: 'Cruel' Workplace to Blame for Poverty

MK Shelly Yechimovich says a “cruel” work culture is largely to blame for poverty in Israel.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/2/2009, 7:54 PM / Last Update: 11/3/2009, 12:04 AM

Flash 90

MK Shelly Yechimovich of Labor believes that the 2008 National Insurance Institute (NII) report on poverty reveals a serious problem with Israel's labor laws. The fact that so many workers remain poor is a sign that “the workplace is becoming very cruel,” the MK says.

"The most worrisome datum from the latest report is the fact that almost fifty percent of Israel's poor are workers,” Yechimovich told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service on Monday. “That is to say, a person can work from morning to night... and remain poor.”

If Israelis cannot make a decent living through work, it will be “a serious blow to society,” Yechimovich warned. She pointed to the fact that many employees work for contractors, and to “exploitative contracts,” as two of the factors that have created a class of working poor.

The Solution? 'Buy Israeli'
One simple way to begin solving the problem is to force government ministries to buy from Israeli manufacturers, Yechimovich said. “The security agencies must buy their uniforms from Israeli factories, not from China,” she states.

Herzog: Data Encourages Work
Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog had a different approach to the NII data. The most recent poverty report “shows a direct connection between joining the workforce and escaping poverty,” the minister said.

Herzog pointed to the drop in poverty in the Arab sector, which followed an increase in Arab participation in the workplace, as proof that more workers means fewer poor families.