Kindergarten. Photo: Tamar Hayardeni
Meet: Rabbi Sigal Asher, the new director of the centre for the rights of weaker sectors of the population of the movement Rabbis for Human Rights (located in Hadera). Rabbi Asher shows how earning a decent living and job security are basic and essential components for a life of respect. She asks why these things are denied the contract workers in the education system.
Y., a married woman in her 20s came to us at the centre for the rights of the weaker sectors of the population in Hadera with a familiar and infuriating story.
Last year she finished her studies, and in November she started work as a kindergarten teacher for a private company. Her employers were happy with her work but, all the same, she was fired.
According to the rules of the Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute), the minimum period necessary to receive unemployment benefits is 360 days for which insurance was paid out of 540 days (18 months), that preceded the beginning of the period of unemployment. This means that Y. needs to work a year and five months before she can get unemployment benefit, whereas she only worked eight months and before that studied. Therefore, she does not meet the requirements and so does not qualify for unemployment benefit.
It was hinted to Y. that her place of work intended to hire her again in September, but she has no certainty that this will happen. What will Y. do now? She is a qualified kindergarten teacher, this is the profession she acquired in order to work and earn a decent living. In the summer months there is no work for kindergarten teachers. It is clear that dismissals come about as a result of the desire of the owners of the kindergarten to save money in the summer months.
Y. is a contract worker for the Ministry of Education. Many teachers and kindergarten teachers ,who are not Ministry of Education employees, get work every year in September, and every year they are fired in June, at the end of the school year. The students get their reports at the end of the year and the kindergarten and other teachers get letters of dismissal. There are teachers who have been employed like this for many years, without accumulating seniority or any rights, and who suffer from lack of basic job security.
The employers do not have to pay their workers a salary for the summer months, or/ to enable them to accumulate seniority at work .and social benefits This way employers save on their salaries and social benefits. A good deal, if you are an employer. Not so good, if you are a teacher. Not only do you not acquire seniority at work, not only do you not get a salary in the summer months, but also you cannot look for work in the summer months (who will employ you for two months?). In addition to this, you will not know for certain until the end of August if you will get your job back or not. There are cases where the employer decided not to give a specific worker her job back. Because they notified her only a few days before the start of the school year, they prevented her from looking for another job in the educational system.
Earning a decent living and job security are not trivial things, but are basic and necessary for a good life. The wider meaning of “Do not oppress a hired servant” (Deuteronomy, ch.XXIV, verse 14) impels employers to allow their workers to enjoy job security and to make a decent living from their labour.