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      Social Workers Begin Strike; Finance Ministry on the Attack

      10,000 social workers' nationwide strike begins Sunday morning; Finance Ministry has decided to strike back against the workers' PR campaign.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 3/5/2011, 10:44 PM / Last Update: 3/5/2011, 10:21 PM

      Eve before the nationwide social workers' strikebegan Sunday morning, the Finance Ministry had decided to strike back against the workers' PR campaign. The Ministry says the social workers are highlighting those who are paid the least, but are not sharing with the public their unwarranted demands for the higher-paid among them.

      The social workers have publicized in recent days the fact that beginners in their field are earning minimum wages or close to it. The Finance Ministry says it has offered a differential solution which would increase the lowest paid social workers' salaries by 20%. However, the Finance Ministry adds, the workers are demanding a significant increase for the highest-paid among them as well.

      The Finance Ministry has decided to publicize its offer to the social workers, as follows: "Those making 5,000 shekels a month will receive 20% more, those making 10,000 NIS will receive 10% more, and those earning 15,000 will receive the same raise that the entire public sector is receiving - 7.25%. Higher raises will be given to those dealing with children and similar clients." 

      Unfortunately, Finance Ministry representatives say, "the social workers are demanding that those earning 17,000 or 20,000 NIS a month should receive a higher raise than others in the public sector - an unjustified demand."

      "It is regrettable that the struggle is depicted in the media as if it is only for the lower-paid workers," the Finance Ministry states, "while in the negotiations, the story is different."

      Media reports have highlighted the fact that social workers earn starting salaries of only 3,500 shekels a month, some receive nothing for most of their overtime hours, and publicized a 25-year-veteran who earns a gross monthly salary of 8,000 shekels..

      Their case loads include youth at risk, single parents, battered wives, neglected children, the sick and/or elderly, mental patients, and more. Approximately one quarter of the Israeli population, which includes many immigrant families in need of help as well, will be affected.