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Labor MK to present bill linking lawmakers’ paychecks to minimum wage

Naama Lazimi says she aims to curb income boosts unless bottom earners also get a raise; current system ties MKs’ salaries to average salaries

MK Naama Lazimi at a Conference of the Anti-Defamation League in Tel Aviv, on November 16, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** åòéãä
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MK Naama Lazimi at a Conference of the Anti-Defamation League in Tel Aviv, on November 16, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** åòéãä îøëæ åòéãú éùøàì ììëéãåú çáøúéú ùì äìéâä ðâã äùîöä îãáøéí ôåìéèé÷ä ðòîä ìæéîé

MK Naama Lazimi of Labor said she would submit a bill Wednesday to link lawmakers’ salaries to the minimum wage, so that MKs would only see an increase in their paycheck when those at the bottom of the earnings ladder do too.

Lazimi’s proposal is to replace the current system in which the salaries of government ministers and lawmakers are tied to the average market salary. Under the existing method, ministers, lawmakers, and judges are set to get a 15 percent wage increase starting at the beginning of the year, a jump of thousands of shekels a month each.

The salary increases come as many members of the public are struggling with the rising cost of living as well as widespread layoffs across a number of industries.

Meanwhile, welfare support for those in need is tied to the consumer price index and will therefore see a far more modest increase of around 5% in January, Channel 12 has reported.

That will amount to an approximate rise of NIS 80 ($23.50) per person per month for those who receive assistance.

“Until the minimum wage goes up, we will not earn a shekel more,” Lazimi told the Ynet news site of her plan.

“We can’t accept a situation where while more than a million people earn minimum wages and cannot balance their month[ly income], the salaries of Knesset members and ministers rise,” she said.

“This is a distortion that must be corrected,” Lazimi said. “We have come to serve the public, and not to be disconnected from its difficult economic situation.”

Lawmakers at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem, June 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Labor party and others in the current government coalition are heading into the opposition following the November 1 elections that gave victory to a bloc of right-religious parties led by Likud.

As a bill submitted by a soon-to-be opposition lawmaker, it is unknown whether Lazimi’s proposal can gain enough support to pass.

The expected raise for top civil servants, including the president, prime minister, government ministers, lawmakers, and court judges, comes as a freeze on their salaries that began during the COVID-19 pandemic expires.

The freeze was introduced as coronavirus lockdowns caused many people to lose their jobs — overwhelmingly those with lower salaries.

Economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic has brought the average salary back to normal but it is still some 13.5%-15% higher than the last figure calculated before the freeze began.

The final calculation of the upcoming increase will be based on the average salary in October, a figure which will only be published at the beginning of next month.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is earning a monthly NIS 56,345 ($16,630), but his expected replacement, Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu, will take home around NIS 64,700 ($19,000) a month starting at the beginning of next year.

Lapid, who is expected to become opposition leader, will see his salary for that role rise from NIS 50,673 ($14,960) to around NIS 58,200 ($17,180) per month, the same salary as government ministers.

Deputy ministers and MKS will get around NIS 52,000 ($15,345) compared to the NIS 45,274 ($13,360) they are getting now.

A shopping cart at the Rami Levy supermarket in Modiin on July 21, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Knesset Finance Committee has the ability to prevent the salary increase or reduce it for the president, prime minister or ministers.

MKs’ salaries are controlled by the Knesset House Committee, which acts on the recommendations of an advisory panel.

The top earner in line for a raise is Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, whose monthly salary will go from NIS 104,000 (approximately $30,000) to around NIS 119,000 ($35,000).

The salary of Supreme Court judges will go up to nearly NIS 92,000 ($27,150) a month. District court judges will get NIS 72,5000 ($21,390) a month, while magistrate court judges will earn NIS 58,000, ($17,107), Channel 12 reported.

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