The Food and Pharmaceutical Workers Union and the Chamber of Commerce of Tel Aviv and Central Region (the Division for Catering in Business and Institutions) signed a general collective agreement on Tuesday to raise the minimum wage in the catering industry , among other benefits. The agreement, signed under the oversight of the Histadrut, will last for a period of four years, starting with an extension order by the Minister of Economy.

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The agreement will apply to all employees of catering companies who work for service clients, in full-time and part-time central kitchens. Among other things, it will apply to web managers, shift managers, head chefs, assistant chefs, waiters, dishwashers, administration staff at major sites and kitchens.

Along with this agreement, Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai has a series of industry agreements that depend on her signing expansion orders that will make them binding, in the security, cleaning, and nursing fields.

Industry minimum wage and a perseverance grant

The agreement will be implemented in five installments, the date of which will be determined in accordance with the date of publication of the extension order. In the first installment, the minimum wage in the industry will be 10% above the standard minimum wage. In the second installment, it will rise 13% above the minimum wage, and in the third installment onwards the workers of the industry will earn 16% above the minimum wage.

It was also determined that starting from the fourth installment of the agreement, the workers will be entitled to a study fund, with the employer’s deposits amounting to 2.5%, and starting in the fifth installment, 5%. The workers’ share of the study fund will be 2.5%.

Starting in the first installment of the agreement, workers in the industry will be entitled to a holiday gift on Rosh Hashana and Passover. In the third phase, the gift will go up to 230 shekel for an employee with at least three months’ seniority and working at least on a 50% basis.

The agreement also stipulates that employees will receive a “perseverance grant” for the past year, which will be calculated by multiplying the employee's normal working hours by the amount per hour, according to the installments in the agreement.

Employers will be able to convert the perseverance grant into an excellence budget for outstanding employees, courses and professional training, incentives and welfare activities. The Histadrut will work to promote welfare activities and benefits for employees in the agreement, in accordance with the industry standard. 

It is further stipulated that the employer will provide at his expense to the employees clothing and equipment at sites where it is required. 

“Thanks to the agreement, work in the field will be more attractive to more workers”

Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David said in a statement: “I welcome the agreement. It strengthens the workers in the catering industry and improves their wages and employment conditions. I call on employers to work with us to reduce unemployment and improve the conditions of workers in the economy.” 

“Thanks to Eliezer Balo, the Chamber of Commerce and all those involved in the craft for their efforts to reach the industry agreement. The Histadrut, the home of workers in Israel, will continue to work for their well-being and employment security,” he went on. 

Chairman of the Food and Pharmaceutical Workers Union, Eliezer Balo, said: “After long and complex negotiations, we have reached an unprecedented achievement. The agreement lays the groundwork for improving the terms of employment of workers in the industry. Thanks to the achievements of the agreement, the work in the field of catering will be attractive to more workers, in an industry that is begging for employees.” 

Udi Ben Shimol, CEO of Sodexo Israel, a catering company, said: “We have reached the finish line of four challenging years in which we worked to find the right formula for a significant improvement in the employment conditions of catering workers in Israel. The last two years have been very challenging for the catering industry, as coronavirus has hit and continues to hit the industry.”

Article translated from Hebrew by Deborah Secular.