After eight days of striking, the Lab Technicians Union and the Ministry of Finance have reached a deal which will see technician’s wages rise in the near future. The Ministry of Finance has agreed to add 35 million shekels towards pay raises. Lab technicians’ work is crucial for the healthcare system’s fight against COVID-19, mainly because of their important role in analyzing diagnostic coronavirus tests.
“After 30 years of neglect, our major achievement is reaching an agreement with the Ministry of Finance, which includes a commitment to raise wages for all lab technicians. Today, lab technicians receive an insultingly low paycheck. This is true even when it comes to senior technicians,” said Esther Agmon, head of the Lab Technicians Union within the Histadrut.
The lab technicians went on strike at the end of August, after negotiations between the union and the Ministry of Finance around a pay raise reached a dead end. For years, public lab technicians in Israel have endured low wages in comparison to workers in private sector labs, often earning three times less than their counterparts in the private sector. Lab technicians are generally highly skilled workers, many of them earning Ph.Ds before taking on the job.
“We don’t have any younger colleagues working with us,” said Svetlana Rosenblum, a lab technician from Ashkelon who took part in one of the demonstrations last week. “No one wants to work here, because the starting salary is only 30 shekels an hour. Young people simply don’t want to come here, and we’re constantly understaffed. Sometimes I have to work the night shift and then continue straight on to the morning shift as well. We can’t go on like this.”
Dr. Anna Loria, a lab technician from (location), held a sign on the picket line that read: “I have a Ph.D, but I earn only 47 shekel an hour. As a waitress, I earned 50 shekel an hour.” Her statement sums it all up.