AKIM Jerusalem is a Non Profit Association that operates several houses and projects, where hundreds of people with special needs find shelter. AKIM’s budget is based primarily on allowances from the Ministry of Welfare. It employs 130 workers in its different homes and projects. These employees – some of them work there for years – do not get proper salaries and social benefits. in recent months they decided to join MAAN and demand fair wages and improved working conditions.
Since the unionization commenced several months ago, AKIM’s management met only once with the workers’ representatives for a collective bargaining meeting. Management currently refuses to meet with the workers’ representatives seemingly determined to fight the unionization. Recently, in a puzzling move, the management even hired the services of a law firm led by David Shimron – Netanyahu’s cousin and lawyer.
AKIM Jerusalem was founded in 1950 to give a human solution to people with special needs. The employees, half of them are Jewish Israelis and the other half Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem, are taking care for hundreds of people who live in apartments and hostels, providing them with care at all hours of the day and every day of the week. It is unfortunate that when it comes to the wages and social conditions of its own workers AKIM disrespects them and refuses to negotiate with them.
This work requires physical and mental strength as well as strong interpersonal skills. On the other hand, the salary is low and does not reward effort or seniority. For example, caregivers are required to pay for their training. The professional wage supplements paid by the Ministry of Welfare are generally paid only quarterly and are defined as a “bonus” rather than salary, therefore it is not calculated in accumulative social benefits. Veteran workers who spent all their years in caregiving find themselves with an extremely low pension. This reality leads to the flight of workers from the profession and a chronic shortage of staff, leaving those who do remain to work around the clock with inhumane workloads.
Against this backdrop, the staff of AKIM Jerusalem recently decided to join the MAAN Workers Association. In sharp violation of legal provisions, AKIM Jerusalem has stubbornly refused to commence negotiations on a collective agreement.
AKIM’s choice to seek legal representation from the very expensive law firm of David Shimron, who is second cousin to Netanyahu, is a particularly puzzling move, as AKIM is a public association dependent on funds and donations.
Another puzzling point is that In recent months, and in parallel with the unionization process, AKIM Jerusalem management has joined the Coordinated Team of Care Organizations, which acted to obtain increased government budgets for the field of rehabilitation in the community. This demand is justified and supported by both MAAN and AKIM staff. Oddly, while AKIM is conducting a public campaign to improve the rights and conditions of care workers, it refuses to negotiate with its own employees on these actual issues.
The workers of AKIM Jerusalem, together with the MAAN, are determined to obtain their rights through a fair collective agreement that will guarantee better wages, improved working conditions and compensation for the effort and sacrifice required of them. We demand that the management discuss with us in good faith a collective agreement to guarantee this.