Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Cheshvan 5766 - November 23, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Education Ministry Eliminates Longstanding Maternity Bonus

by G. Kleiman and Betzalel Kahn

The Education Ministry decided to cancel the maternity bonus ("Gmul Em") given for decades to full-time women teachers with children. For decades mothers of children up to age 14 received a 10 percent salary bonus, but now the Education Ministry is claiming that it is making the cut to motivate them to spend more time with their children at home.

According to estimates the Educate Ministry will save millions of shekels per year through this cut, which will affect thousands of teachers. For instance, a teacher who earns NIS 6,000 monthly plus, up until now, a bonus of NIS 600. All teachers who work full-time or more (at least 90 percent of full-time) will have their hours cut in accordance with the pay bonus. Thus a teacher with children who received a total of NIS 6,600 will be forced to reduce her hours until her total salary comes to NIS 6,000.

Teachers who heard about the cut said it would reduce their salaries by hundreds of shekels per month, their hours would probably not be restored and their pension plans would be reduced.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni told a Yated Ne'eman reporter that he was astonished by the report. He said he cannot fathom why the Education Ministry, whose job is to look out for teachers, is making their lives harder and harder. At first the Ministry announces it wants to encourage women to go to work and after they do so it does all it can to give them slave wages and then proceeds to cut them further, he said. The result will be fewer good teachers will want to work in education and the Israeli education system, which is already at a low point, will continue to deteriorate.

Rabbi Gafni said he would try to have the issue raised for an urgent discussion in the Knesset Education Committee. In a letter to Committee Chairman MK Avraham Poraz, Rabbi Gafni writes, "There is no need to dwell at length about the enormous damage the education system in Israel will suffer and the blow to women teachers in Israel. I would be very appreciative if an urgent committee meeting is held to discuss this issue."

Ran Erez, head of the Organization of Upper-Grade Teachers, told Education Ministry Director General Ronit Tirosh, "The path you are currently following harms women, who are already discriminated against in terms of salary and working conditions. This is a decision that harms thousands of teachers [whose salaries] are already among the lowest in the public sector."

In another development the State Comptroller's Office forced the Education Ministry to reverse a decision to stop paying Guaranteed Income allotments ("Havtachat Hachnasah") to avreichim whose wives are on sabbatical.

In recent months the director of Degel HaTorah's Bureau for Public Assistance, Rabbi Shlomo Goldental, received complaints from avreichim claiming that the Education Ministry had changed its policy by calculating their Keren Hishtalmut payments — received while on sabbaticals — as income that renders them ineligible for Guaranteed Income. The Education Ministry's Guaranteed Income Committee reached the decision one year ago and without notice began to implement it in the middle of the year.

Rabbi Goldental contacted the State Comptroller's Office, which began to address the matter. Last week Attorney Baruch Yeshurun, assistant director of the Department of Public Complaints, wrote the complaint was found justified and the Education Ministry would have to reverse its decision.


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