As the Knesset's Finance Committee prepared to approve a set of raises for ministers and parliament members, Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich
turned to the board on Monday with an unlikely request: To impose a pay freeze for the government.
"Ministers and Knesset members were never crowned as kings," Yachimovich told Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni and House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin. "While their salaries are raised automatically, the salaries of most Israeli workers have remained very low and have even eroded under Netanyahu's rule.
"Elected officials should serve as an example instead of living in a separate reality," she said.
Public officials' wages are updated each year in accordance with the average national salary, which means that when the average rises, the officials get a raise. Considering that most people who are laid off in Israel
are low paid, a situation arises in which mass layoffs cause the national average salary to go up. This essentially means that the more low-paid workers lose their jobs, the more government officials earn.
If the Finance Committee approves the annual pay increase on Tuesday, the salaries of the president, Knesset members and judges are to go up by 3%, while the salaries of the prime minister, opposition leader, ministers and deputy ministers are to go up by 2.5%. Directors of public institutions are also to receive raises at similar rates.
Such a pay upgrade "is a privilege that the vast majority of the public does not have," Yachimovich said, noting that 65% of poor families in the Israel are working families. "This data does not sit well with raising the salaries of elected officials who are supposed to represent the public.
"Their wages are indisputably respectable (as they are)… I don't see why they should go up," she said.
Moran Azulay is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent