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Disabled IDF veterans’ caregivers to protest amid poor working conditions

CM 17/04/2021

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The caregivers of disabled IDF veterans will hold a protest against their working conditions on Sunday after disabled IDF veteran Itzik Saidian set himself on fire at an office of the Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Division last week.

“In recent years, the Defense Ministry has been waging a struggle against the union of caregivers for disabled IDF veterans in order to harm their working conditions and wages,” said the caretakers’ union in an announcement of the protest. “This is a direct continuation of the insensitivity of the Rehabilitation Division towards the disabled and their caregivers.”
“The caregivers serve as a mouth for disabled IDF disabled veterans whose condition does not allow them [to speak out], and experience themselves the flow of unnecessary and endless bureaucracy, the turmoil and insensitivity of the Rehabilitation Division,” added the announcement.
The caregivers will protest starting at 10 a.m. in front of the IDF’s Kirya Military Headquarters base in Tel Aviv alongside disabled IDF veterans and tell their stories. The Disabled IDF Veterans Organization will also be protesting in front of the Kirya at the same time.
Caregivers for disabled IDF veterans start at minimum wage, do not receive an adequate pension and lack employment prospects, according to Israel Hayom. The caregivers warned that if the issues are not solved, they will be forced to strike.
“If I understand that there’s no other choice, we will take to the streets,” said the union’s chairman, Avner Malka, to Israel Hayom. “We do not want to make war on the backs of the disabled, I beg the Defense Ministry not to get to this situation.”
The caretakers claim that about 15 to 20 years ago, the Rehabilitation Division did provide the workers with adequate working conditions, but has since begun focusing on finance instead of the needs of the veterans.

The caretakers work about 350 hours a month, traveling hours to reach the homes of disabled veterans and sometimes not even receiving full compensation for their travel costs.
The caretakers are also fighting against a decision by the Defense Ministry to issue a tender at a cost of about NIS 420 million per year to change contractor companies and the terms of employment of caretakers.
The Defense Ministry claims that employment conditions cannot be improved due to the lack of a state budget, according to Israel Hayom.
Political squabbles have left Israel without a state budget for over two years, with social services across the country impacted. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, a number of services and projects were frozen and even faced threats of being shut down due to the lack of a budget.
A court has ruled against the Defense Ministry and frozen the tenders the ministry has attempted to issue, as well as ruling that the ministry is obligated to negotiate with the caretakers. The Histadrut union, which represents the caretakers, says that despite the ruling, the Rehabilitation Division is not showing a willingness to conduct genuine negotiations.Saidian, a 26-year-old disabled IDF veteran, is in critical condition at Sheba Medical Center after he set himself on fire. A 26-year-old veteran of the Golani Brigade, Saidian was diagnosed with PTSD after seeing combat action during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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