For nearly three years, home health aides have demanded higher wages and improved labor regulations. Up to now, the union has concentrated its efforts on eliminating mandatory reporting over the phone. Aids were demanded to call from their patients' homes as a means of monitoring their work. The union claimed that home health aides escort patients to different appointments and on errands, and do not necessarily work in their homes. After winning that battle, they are ready to fight for better wages from the different agencies employing them.
Around 120,000 Israeli caregivers care for 240,000 elderly people in Israel. 92% of them are women, half over the age of fifty and a quarter over the age of sixty. Most of them immigrates to Israel. On paper, they earn minimum wage, but they’re not compensated for time spent traveling between patients – in practice, they take home sub-minimum wages.
"It’s unconscionable that nurses’ wages are so low – it’s degrading. It’s unfair and doesn’t allow them to live in dignity," said Ella Smalansky, an aid and chair of the home health aides' Union. "We’re often forced to work outside of our scheduled hours because our conscience doesn’t allow us to be indifferent, especially during the COVID-19 crisis."
MK Tali Ploskov (Likud) who has backed the nurses’ struggle from the beginning: "Caregivers will no longer be invisible. I promise to fight together with the home health aides and alongside the Histadrut, which I’m happy to report understands their complaints and fully backs their protest."