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Nurses win a sensible agreement

Histadrut and the Finance Ministry have reached a rare sensible labor agreement—on nurses. The deal is largely on the obvious issues: moving geriatric care out of hospitals to ease the burden on skilled nurses, expanding nursing schools, and paying nurses for extra shifts.

Israelis under fire from Gaza are on vacation

Apparently, that has been the position of the Finance Ministry for the past six years. Parents who stayed at home with their children because school classes were canceled due to rocket attacks were deemed to have used their vacation days.

Following an uncharacteristically sensible intervention by the Histadrut, the government agreed to compensate both public and private employees for lost wages instead of pretending that they took vacation to spend it with their families under fire.

One minister stands up to labor racket

The Transportation Minister has ordered the restructuring of Israeli Railways into three independent companies, clearly with the aim of privatizing them to counter Histadrut’s threat of a labor strike in response to the company’s outsourcing some service jobs. Such willingness to take on the ultra-left trade unionists is unique among Israeli bureaucrats.

Some labor strikes are commendable

Dozens of postal workers in Ramat Gan abandoned their work when instructed to deliver Christian missionary materiel to Jewish residents.

Histadrut stayed out of that particular strike.

Labor strike reveals abnormal wages

The Histadrut, which supports wage-hike demands by assistant professors, published two interesting figures.

First, assistants conduct more than half of all lectures. That makes one wonder what the ‘normal’ teachers do, and how that kind of teaching reflects on the pitiful quality of education. Also, why are the assistants not made into tenured teachers if they are doing so much work? The answer, of course, is that the Histadrut shields its existing members, professors, from competition.

Second, professors get about $150 an hour, which sounds grossly unreasonable given the level of wages in Israel.

Trade unions against tourism industry

Histadrut blocked the Open Skies agreement with the EU, which would have opened Israel to competition from low-cost European air carriers, reduced airfares, and encouraged tourism.

Government agrees to provide 70,000 free meals

Under the government’s agreement with Histadrut, contract laborers won’t get much of a pay increase—their minimum wage was only increased by about 10%, and most of them earn more than that anyway. Some 70,000 cleaners and guards will get subsidized meals and minor perks like that.

So why the fuss? Because by including government agencies’ contract employees in trade union agreements, Histadrut adds close to a hundred thousand workers and their families to its power base.

Netanyahu praised the agreement as ‘just,’ though of course it is not; it merely reflects Histadrut’s monopolistic bargaining power.

Israel lays open to attacks by trade unions

Having failed initially to extort employment concessions from the government, Histadrut has declared a general strike, which includes most government and municipal agencies.

As usual, the government will eventually give in. Which raises the question, what are the limits of the trade union’s influence? Being a monopoly, they can naturally extort virtually anything from the government, so there is no theoretical limit to their demands.

But our socialist government refuses to take the only step needed to solve the crisis: subject trade unions to the same anti-monopoly laws that govern the rest of the country.

Histadrut demands de-privatization of government services

The trade union monster is threatening a general strike over the government’s refusal to hire directly those employees who now work for the state through private contractors.

As everyone understands, outsourcing to private firms makes state operations cheaper and more efficient, but the trade union is bent on extracting benefits for its members at the expense of the general population.

Right questions, wrong answers—and sponsors

Protests in IsraelScores of interest groups, from taxi drivers to students, joined the ’social justice’ protests. These were some of the largest demonstrations in Israeli history, with 200,000 people taking to the streets.

By now, what was trumpeted as a grassroots Facebook revolution has clearly taken the shape of a well-managed political campaign aimed at ousting Netanyahu. The extensive media coverage of the protesters also confirms the hand of leftists, who control the media.

Their demands are so absurd that it is impossible for the government to meet them. Not even European welfare states have the kinds of price controls and subsidies the protesters demand. Netanyahu’s economically conservative government is not expected to adopt any of these policies. The protesters’ economic slogans, therefore, amount to a demand for a change in government. The participation of the Histadrut trade-union monster confirms that the government the protesters desire is that of Histadrut-supported Kadima. That the protesters evicted the settlers who tried to join them with housing demands also supports this conclusion.

Now, the protesters are correct that Israeli consumer standards are extremely low. They are even partially correct in their demand for the lowering of the defense budget, which funds a conventional army which Israel does not need. They are wrong, however, in their prescriptions: defense budget cuts should be used for lowering taxes, not for rising subsidies; and the answer to our economic ills is deregulation, not price controls.

The protesters have aligned themselves with foreign elements who want Israel demilitarized under a Kadima government that can be expected to sign any agreement with the Palestinians dictated from Washington. There is no doubt that by now the protest movement has been completely hijacked by the White House, which seeks Netanyahu’s ouster.

Histadrut for Arabs

Trade unions are lobbying to raise the minimum wage to $1,200 per month. Minimum wage is a tax paid by consumers through the increase in the prices of basic products and services.

Even more importantly, the minimum wage disproportionately benefits Arabs—who work in primitive occupations—and well-paid trade-union members whose salaries are pegged to the minimum wage. Lobbying for minimum-wage hikes, trade unions thus do not care about the Jewish poor, but only about their own members.

11 May 2011 Posted in labor

Labor hypocrisy: more taxes through lesser taxation

Trade unions are stepping up their demands on the government, ostensibly to increase the minimum wage by $122 per month and lower taxes on water, fuel, and bread. A great idea, you would say? Not at all.

Relatively few Jews and no trade-union members work for minimum wage—but the salaries of unionized workers are pegged to it. By increasing the minimum wage Histadrut is effectively increasing the already very high wages of its members by hundreds of dollars per month. Unionized workers are not poor; they have no trouble paying for water or bread. The whole speculation is only a politically correct way to further boost their wages.

This lowering of taxes on fuel and bread is not correlated with an appropriate budget reduction. On the contrary, the trade unions demand more subsidies and higher wages in the state sector. Therefore, lower taxes on fuel and bread mean higher taxes on other products. Consumers will pay at least the same amount of taxes after the changes, but trade unions will falsely claim there has been an improvement.

Trade unions demand communism

Histadrut has threatened a general strike if the government fails to reduce the prices of basic goods, including bread and gasoline.

Only in communist economies do governments regulate prices—and in Israel.

Trade unions demand communism

Israel labor relations: socialism triumphs

After years of resisting Histadrut’s racketeering, Israel’s umbrella organization of entrepreneurs agreed to increase social security payments to 17.5% of wages; only 5.5% will be paid by workers, the balance will be paid by their employers. The mammoth funds will line the coffers of Histadrut trade unions.

The pension payments are largely useless: when managed by government and trade unions, they decrease in value due to inflation; when invested in stock market, they are wiped out during crises.

While Jews undermine their competitive edge with new major taxes, Arabs engage in a black market economy. In the end, Arabs with zero social security accounts will receive pensions from the Israeli government. Jews will thus pay twice: they lose jobs to Arabs and subsidize their pensions.

Forget lower taxes

Netanyahu has reneged on yet another campaign promise. Instead of reducing taxes, the government will increase VAT to satisfy the Histadrut trade union’s wage demands.

Still, the budget deficit runs at 3 percent, twice the amount approved by the Bank of Israel.

Government capitulates to Histadrut

Despite a major decrease in state revenues, the Israeli budget rose by 3 percent as the trade union blocked attempts to cut salaries and sinecures.

Welfare provisions for mothers and families will be slashed to accommodate Histadrut’s demands.

11 May 2009 Posted in labor

Histadrut against mothers

As the Israeli trade-union monster remains steadfast in its opposition to salary cuts in the state sector, the Finance Ministry has slashed billions from the welfare and defense budgets in order to cope with the decreased revenues.

Meanwhile, Israel invests in Palestine to create jobs there.

Israeli budget deficit set at 17%

The government has approved a $60 billion budget with an $11 billion deficit. The budget comes in at 33 percent of the projected $180 billion GDP, one of the highest ratios in the Western world.

Due to the economic crisis, the budgetary income is likely to be smaller than expected, and the expenditures will greater than expected. Despite the crisis, the government has increased its expenditures and refused to cut the bloated ministries and other pork-barrel spending.

The usual culprits—Shas, UTJ, and Histadrut—are decrying the budget as not sufficiently sensitive to their predatory needs.

Iron Dome tested successfully

Iron Dome rocketIn addition to reinforced concrete roofs, Sderot will also receive the Iron Dome soon. Israel tested the anti-missile system ahead of schedule.

Jews will be using $200,000 interceptor missiles for $100 Kassam rockets. The Iron Dome is useless against shells, which are used with increasing frequency by Palestinian terrorists, and its efficiency against Grad and newer Kassam-4 rockets is questionable.

The Iron Dome was chosen over the American laser system due to the pressure from Histadrut trade union and the Israeli military-industrial complex.

A much cheaper and more efficient solution would be to annex Gaza and expel its inhabitants into Egypt.

27 March 2009 Posted in army

Bank of Israel embraces socialism

bank of israelIf you’re not fed up yet with the government that bans new construction of private hospitals and refuses licenses to private power generators, here comes the purportedly free-market Bank of Israel.

The BOI’s head has revealed his anti-crisis program:

- massive government investments in infrastructure, primarily railroads (a failed Keynesian solution of the Great Depression era. Why squander the state’s resources for something that private investors deem unfeasible?)
- improving education (very good, but the better-educated pupils would not join the economy until a decade from now, and thus cannot solve the current crisis)
- increase the term of unemployment benefits (turn taxpayers into spongers).

Israel cannot borrow huge amounts like America does, the dollar being a reserve currency. Stanley Fischer thus earmarked mere $1.2 billion for investment programs, which is ridiculously insufficient.

The solution to Israeli unemployment is, in fact, simple:

- expel the 1.5 million illegal migrants who take local jobs.
- ban Palestinian workers completely.
- restrict unemployment benefits to two months so that people will take any jobs.
- remove the minimum wage limit to allow Jews to compete with Arabs in low-wage sectors where Arabs are hired illegally.
- ban Histadrut trade unions and dismantle the red-tape bureaucracy.