Within two minutes I had in my hand a letter thanking me for my services and wishing me luck for the future. A letter of dismissal. My entire crime was that I was approaching the end of my second year in Educational Television. If I were to pass the two-year mark, I could demand the rights of a permanent employee. ETV won’t let this happen. It’s simple, there are no positions here, go look for a permanent job somewhere else. Hey, wait a minute! Is there one anywhere?
In the reality we live in, thousands are employed without normal salaries, without possibilities of advancement, without protection from the whims of the employer, and the basic message is clear: There are more thousands who’d be happy to be in your place. Be thankful you’re working and keep your mouth shut. But at what price? Almost every month we hear about migrant workers employed in slavery conditions. We hear about exploited women, plants closing down, thousands losing their jobs. Each of these people has a name and a story.
I entered ETV two years ago. My position was Directorial Assistant and Researcher. Of course they didn’t pay me for this doubling of functions. In the job interview I was told I would be a Researcher. They smuggled in my second job through the back door. In the contract I signed, it was made clear to me that I was being employed as a freelancer, which is to say, between me and my employer there is no employee-employer relation. On my second day of work I was given a time card. I was told to punch it on arriving and leaving. I asked my direct boss: if I’m freelance, what’s the time card for? So they’ll see that you exist, she said. I was also told that I must come to the TV Building every day. At the end of the month they checked the number of hours that were registered on the time card and computed my salary accordingly. In short, ETV was requiring the same things of me that it does from its permanent workers. But to give me the same rights as they – that, no.
ETV is not the only government office where people are employed without social benefits, pension, vacation or sick days. There are many. This violation of rights goes on quite openly, preventing the entry of new workers who would cost the state a lot of money.
Why is it so easy to violate laws in Israel? What is a young woman like me supposed to do, who wants to get ahead in life, if the conditions are like this in practically every job? Will I have to go looking for a new job every two years because they don’t want to give me tenure? This terrible circle must stop! The TV workers who lost their jobs have decided to put up a fight. A personal fight for a job, and a general fight about the way people are employed in the State of Israel. I am not prepared to make peace with the fact that in the revolving-door system, another woman will come after me, who will work in the same conditions, who won’t get the social benefits that are legally hers, who won’t be able to accumulate a pension, and who – when she returns from pregnancy leave – won’t get the hour for breastfeeding that is her right. Maybe what’s happening in ETV is yet another example of what this country inflicts on its citizens. Only we can change this.