Last wednesday, caregivers, who provide care for those elderly and disabled, which is granted by the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), protested over their degrading employment conditions. They called for a raise in their wages (which do not currently reflect accumulation of experience, seniority or employer recommendations) and asked for recognition of their humanity and emotional needs.

These workers (mostly women), who work a tough, physically and emotionally demanding job caring for our parents and grandparents, are rewarded for their hard work with permanent minimum wage. Furthermore, they do not receive any social or psychological attention in the case of a patient’s death, even though in many cases they spend years caring for this individual. To add insult to injury, the National Insurance Institute has recently added regulations requiring these workers to report their arrival and departure times by phone.

And it only seems to get more worse from there. Israelis prefer not to work 24-hours per day, so for those that need constant care, for those for whom a live-in caregiver is required, typically migrant workers are brought in. They suffer from inhumane working conditions as well – they are required to be available around the clock (with no 8 hour limit on a workday or regular required breaks – a law from which this group of workers is exempted) even though they are paid for 8 hours only. Many of them are required to work 7 days a week, because there is no established system to relieve them. And if these caregivers dare to take a break and go out of the house for a few hours – they might find themselves required to sign a form like the one shown here.

This form was handed to a caregiver by an employer who asked her to sign it. Confused, she came to Kav LaOved for help in understanding what the form meant. It turned out that the employer had asked her to sign a statement saying that for the 5 hours she got off that week, to go to church, to run her errands, to go to the doctor, or simply to take a break, she would allow the employer to deduct 5 hours’ worth of wages from her wages for that Sunday. Even though, to begin with, she was already only getting paid for 8 and working 19.

This form represents the common view of caregivers as soulless, needless robots, they are expected to function non-stop: if the robot asks to stop for a few hours- to go to church and meet friends – the robot’s rudeness will lead to a wage reduction. And what of the dozens of hours during the week, in which the robot gave everything without pay? Who remembers those hours? Who counts those? It seems those are completely forgotten and systematically overlooked.

You can read about last week’s protest, led by caregiving workers represented by the Histadrut, in a piece by Tamara Zieve in Jerusalem post: https://www.jpost.com/…/Care-givers-protest-exploitation-at…