Hadas Gil-Ad
Hadas Gil-Ad
Teachers' protest outside of the Education Ministry offices in Tel Aviv

Israel should be ashamed of its treatment of welfare sector workers

Opinion: Teachers, caretakers and social workers are all crucial professions, not to mention building blocks of a thriving society; it's insulting to have them bear the degrading working conditions and minuscule wages, and we must start speaking up about it

Hadas Gil-Ad |
Published: 05.22.22, 23:31
Teachers' wages, medical staff safety, public psychologists' working conditions, the lack of social workers and kindergarten caretakers in the welfare sector - all these are problems that should concern not only those directly affected by them, but the entire Israeli society.
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  • What could possibly be more important than the fight for our welfare, our health, our education, and our children's education? We're talking about the building blocks of our society. Where would we be without these services and people who sacrifice so much to keep working in these sectors?
    4 View gallery
    הפגנה של מורים מול משרד החינוך בתל אביב כמחאה על פיטורים של 600 מורים
    הפגנה של מורים מול משרד החינוך בתל אביב כמחאה על פיטורים של 600 מורים
    Teachers' protest outside of the Education Ministry offices in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    They are fighting over their working conditions, their security, their personal welfare, and that of their families; Over their right to earn a decent salary, to go to work feeling safe. We should all be fighting in this war, taking to the streets with them as the public welfare sector workers prepare to stage a series of protests in the coming weeks.
    It's the fight for the quality of the healthcare services we receive in hospitals the quality of education our children get at schools. It's the fight to have a strong foundations to help those in need - the elderly, children, teenagers and communities at risk, families pleading for equal opportunities. It's a fight for a better, safer, more equal society.
    Going to work feeling safe, receiving respectful and attentive services, earning a sustainable salary - these shouldn't be considered privileges.
    4 View gallery
    מחאת עובדי ההוראה בהבימה
    מחאת עובדי ההוראה בהבימה
    Educational workers protesting in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Avi Chai)
    I, myself, am personally familiar with this struggle. As a daughter of a generational legacy of teachers, I grew up deeply rooted into the contrasts of this world.
    The world of educational women of great stature, who truly loved their profession and their students. Professional educators who felt they were making a difference at work every day, with great aspirations to create a better world for their students - to help children fulfill their goals, break glass ceilings, look beyond the boundaries that society confined them to and minimize social gaps.
    On a daily basis, I saw up close the contrast of loving your job, while the system constantly spits in the face of its very existence. I saw what it was like to work overtime and off the clock just to get a degrading paycheck at the end of the month. I saw those same devoted professionals exposed to violence, while no one looked out for their safety. I saw their personal battle to wake up every morning and continue to do their best, despite being given every reason to do exactly the opposite.
    This reality is not only that of teachers. It also plagues social workers who live from paycheck to paycheck, kindergarten caretakers who work double shifts and overtime just to pay the bills, psychologists who ditch the public welfare services to work in the private sector, and many more who at one point chose to devote their lives to helping others.
    4 View gallery
    תלמידים מורים בית ספר תיכון פרייהר-ווום-שטיין בון גרמניה קורונה
    תלמידים מורים בית ספר תיכון פרייהר-ווום-שטיין בון גרמניה קורונה
    High school teachers amid the COVID pandemic
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Now, we're paying the price as the country struggles with a catastrophic shortage of teachers, social workers, kindergarten caretakers and public sector psychologists.
    The Association of Social Workers in Israel recently published a report, indicating there is an increase in demand for welfare services that corresponds with a dramatic drop in available workers, thus creaking a massive shortage in workforce.
    As a result, social workers in impoverished Israeli communities have around 46 minutes per patient a month, while those who attend to the elderly have about half an hour a month.
    More so, social workers who treat domestic violence victims, have about nine minutes and 50 seconds per patient a week, and those who work with individuals struggling with mental illnesses have 15 minutes per patient a week.
    4 View gallery
    הפגנת עובדים סוציאליים בתל אביב
    הפגנת עובדים סוציאליים בתל אביב
    Social workers protest in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    These career paths shouldn't require such personal sacrifices. If this wasn't enough, the cost of living in Israel continues to climb. It has become a far-fetched dream to aim for financial stability, to allow our kids to pursue hobbies, to go on a yearly vacation.
    Being passionate and fulfilled at your workplace doesn't pay the bills. The same people who choose to put the struggling sectors of society first and devote their lives to improving the public well-being, are expected to pay too high of a a price.
    It should be an honor to fulfill the very jobs that grant society a collective safety net - not a cross to bear - and we should all be fighting for these people.
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