Israel: National collective agreement signed in construction industry

The Construction and Associated Industries Workers Union (Histadrut), the Israel Builders’ Association and the Association of Renovation Contractors signed on 12 June a national collective agreement aimed at improving the workers' conditions in the construction industry and raising their wages, along with expanding the employers' commitment in the industry to maintaining the occupational safety. The validity of the agreement, which is an addition and update to the collective agreement from 2015, is for 5 years, subject to the issuance of an extension order by the government.

Approximately 340,000 workers are employed in the construction and infrastructure industry, of whom approximately a quarter of a million are Israelis. The agreement includes an update of the workers' wages to an improved sectorial minimum wage relative to the minimum wage in the Israeli economy, an automatic transfer between wage ranks, encouraging vocational trainings and safety trainings for workers and improving the workers' rights on other issues. In addition, due to the large shortage of foremen in the construction industry, it was agreed to raise their wages considerably, among other things in order to encourage veteran and experienced foremen to stay in the industry.

The agreement also determines that the employers in the industry will increase the investment in maintaining safety and will be required to send their workers for practical safety training, in which workers will receive training on work at a high altitude and training on other issues related to the obligation of caution in the site. The trainings will be delivered in a variety of languages. At the same time, the safety agreement signed in 2018 was updated in a way that will facilitate its implementation.

The Foundation for the Encouragement and Development of the Construction Industry, which was jointly established by the Histadrut and the Israel Builders’ Association, has been working in recent years to reduce accidents in the industry and coordinates various trainings and training programs for occupational safety. In the future, the establishment of an academy for the construction professions, which will train the next generation of workers and managers in the industry, is planned.

"Dozens of workers in Israel lose their lives every year in the construction industry due to serious safety problems. We must not get used to a reality where a person goes to work and does not know if he will return to his family in peace. I welcome the agreement which both takes care of safety in the industry and improves the conditions of workers and their wages. I sincerely hope that from here we are embarking on a new path that will result in saving lives in the construction industry. I thank Yitzhak Moyal, my friend Raul Srugo for the partnership, the Association of Renovation Contractors and everyone who was involved in signing this important agreement. We will continue to work for the workers in all the sectors of the Israeli economy," Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David said. 

Israel Builders’ Association President Raul Srugo also expressed his group's satisfaction with the agreement. "The construction and infrastructure industry is the locomotive of the economy. This is another important tool for expanding the ranks in the industry and recruiting many Israelis who can contribute to its continued growth. The conditions for the industry workers are among the best in the Israeli economy and it opens up an employment and managerial horizon where the sky is the limit for those who work in it or join it. The workers of the construction industry are important to us, they are our daily partners in building the State of Israel and marching it forward," he said.

For  his part, Yitzhak Moyal, Chair of the Construction and Associated Industries Workers Union-Histadrut, said that the sectorial minimum wage will increase during the agreement period up to NIS 6,300 (approximately USD 1,869.43) per month, making it the highest minimum wage in the Israeli economy.

The agreement also includes automatic promotion in the salary levels for workers and incentivization for workers and employers to refer employees to vocational training courses through the Foundation for the Encouragement and Development of the Construction Industry. There will also be a wage increase for a work hour of crane operators, and foremen will be entitled to a very significant wage increase of almost 50%. It was also agreed on a significant improvement in the wages of renovation workers," he explained.