The spirit of unionization is spreading through Israel's accounting firms. The latest in line is PwC Kesselman & Kesselman, one of Israel's leading firms, where employees have initiated the formation of a workers committee in order to improve their conditions. A few days after "Globes" reported that employees at EY (Ernst & Young) Israel had taken steps to set up a workers committee and that employees at KPMG Somekh Chaikin had followed suit, employees at Kesselman began similar moves.
The moving spirits are accountants who have been with the firm for 3-5 years, and who claim that their monthly gross salaries, which range between NIS 5,500 and NIS 7,500, do not reflect their efforts and their contribution to the firm.
The initiators of the unionization move at Kesselman seem less militant than their colleagues at the other two firms, and are less accusatory of their employer. In an e-mail message sent to Kesselman employees they make clear that it is not a matter of a "struggle" or a "war", but of "improvement, and constant concern for workers' rights and members' employment conditions."
Talking to "Globes", one of the backers of the unionization initiative said, "We aren't attacking the firm. Relations with us are good, our feelings are different from those of the employees in the other firms that are unionizing. The managers and partners at the firm have always given us a good feeling, and work is conducted in a pleasant atmosphere, but there's no doubt that the salaries and benefits are inadequate, and even represent starvation conditions. I, for example, have worked as an auditor at the firm for three years, and my salary is NIS 6,500 a month. That's a little insulting."
The Collective Agreements Law stipulates that forming a workers committee requires the consent of at least 33.3% of the workers at an enterprise. The leaders of the unionization move say that if the required percentage support is not reached, the names of those who did support the move will not be revealed. If it is reached, there will be elections for a workers committee.
M, one of the leaders, told "Globes", "The young employees earn NIS 5,000-6,500, because the firm can pay them that much. The market is flooded, people are waiting in line for studentships, and the employers take advantage of that. They know that in any event the work will be done by one accountant or another, because we have no choice."
Kesselman usually holds salary reviews in July of each year, so there is great interest in the prospect of forming a workers committee close to the date of the next round of reviews.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 1, 2015
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