Social Workers protest
Social Workers protestIsrael news photo: Hizky Ezra

The social workers’ strike continues – it is now in its fifth day – but major progress towards its conclusion has been reported: The Finance Ministry has accepted a cardinal demand of the workers, agreeing to pay starting salaries of at least 6,000 shekels a month.

The lowest-paid social workers currently earn a monthly salary of 3,500 shekels, the workers say.

However, the striking sector still insists that the new starting salary apply to all workers, that the government supervise the salary scale, and that higher-paid social workers receive raises as well.

The municipality of Haifa struck for three hours yesterday in solidarity with the social workers, and other cities are considering doing the same.

The strike is already having an effect on city welfare services. As much as 20% of the populations of some cities have “files” in the social welfare departments, and more in Arab cities. Similarly, backlogs have begun to form in the nation’s courts, as judges often rely on now-unavailable social workers’ reports for their rulings.

In addition, it is feared that the annual distribution of holiday food baskets for Passover, five weeks from now, might collapse because of the strike. Charity organizations note that they generally receive lists of needy families from local social workers.