A bill that aims to cut the salaries of Israeli public officials, including parliamentarians, passed its first hurdle in the Knesset on Monday.
The bill, which implements a compromise agreement between Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Histadrut labor union head Ofer Eini, was approved in its first reading by a vote of 38-15. According to the legislation, Knesset members, ministers, and the president will all take a 10 percent salary reduction. The average cut for other public sector workers will be 1%.
A press release from the Knesset said the bill was a result of the 2012 national budget deficit, which was 4.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP), marking four consecutive years with a deficit that exceeded 3%. At the same time, the government has made very large financial commitments in the past two years, according to the bill.
Therefore, “the government must make significant adjustments, in terms of both expenditure and income,” the bill stated. “These developments demand an immediate, significant and long-term change in its fiscal policy.”
In addition to many benefits, including leased cars and an allowance for clothing, parliamentarians currently receive an average salary of approximately NIS 38,000 ($10,500) per month.
Hadash party chairman Mohammed Barakeh opposed the bill on the grounds that “employees should not have to pay the price of the government’s conduct.”
MK Ya’akov Margi (Shas) condemned the “government sticking its hand in the pockets of workers,” while Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) called for a drastic cut in salaries of the upper echelons of Israeli society, such as judges and CEOs of public companies.
MK Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) acknowledged that cutting the wages of workers was painful, but nevertheless called the move a necessity.