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NII workers agree to implement disabled employment law

אוקטובר 19, 2009. Globes: Shay Niv

Sources inform ''Globes'' that the draft collective agreement reached last month between the National Insurance Institute's management and workers committee includes a NIS 200-400 monthly pay hike for its 3,600 employees, depending on their seniority. Ministry of Finance Director of Wages Ilan Levin, who still has to approve the agreement, has notified the National Insurance Institute of several reservations to the deal.

Both the National Insurance Institute and the Ministry of Finance claim that there is no connection between the pay hike and the employees' agreement to apply, beginning today, the so-called Laron law (Amendment 109 to the National Insurance Institute Law Encouragement of the Disabled to Enter the Labor Force). The law came into effect ten weeks ago, but has not been implemented because of sanctions by National Insurance Institute employees. The law enables disabled persons to earn up to 93% of the average national wage without losing their disability benefits.

The National Insurance Institute today announced that disabled persons can now submit claims retroactively to August 1 2009, the date the amendment came into effect.

Before the new labor contract, sources at the National Insurance Institute accused its employees of extortion, by demanding a pay hike in exchange for implementing the Laron law. The National Insurance Institute and the Ministry of Finance today made it clear that the pay hike was contingent on the employees agreeing to install advanced computer systems that will improve service. This is one of the changes that National Insurance Institute director general Esther Dominici is trying to implement, and resemble the changes she implemented when she headed the Israel National Employment Service.

National Insurance Institute workers committee chairman Yaron Zarfati told "Globes" that he never made implementation of the Laron law contingent on the pay hike. He had demanded more employees to deal with the changes. "It's true that the Ministry of Finance agreed in advance to add 46 positions, but we demanded actual approval to hire people," he said.

Although National Insurance Institute employees are getting a pay hike, they have had to forego some things in the new labor agreement. Levin's intervention in the case forced the employees to forego the excessive salaries they had previously enjoyed as part of a system known as "the hours pool". In addition, their demand for payment for hours deducted during their labor sanctions was denied.

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