Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXXXVIII. The Ma’abarot Stage (14 of 26)

Lishkat Ha’avoda

La lishka, as we affectionately referred to it, was an arm of the Histadrut.  It was an employment exchange organization (with districts across the country) in charge of supplying the required labor to the employers; and providing employment to the unemployed.  It acted as the middleman between the two parties.

Employers outlined the kind of individual(s) they needed, the rate of pay, and for how long.  Qualified workers were apprised of the offer and, if interested, they were given a petek (voucher) with the relevant details such as the address, when to start, and so on.

Virtually all work supplied by la lishka was zmani (temporary) ranging from a few days, to a few months.  Occasionally, this temporary job turned into permanent employment; but that was rare.

La lishka’s mandate went beyond supplying the unemployed with work.  They saw to it that the unemployed that were part of that particular district, were provided with enough work in a given time period so that they can survive.

What if a person was, for whatever reasons difficult to employ, or even unemployable?  This is where dahak work came into the picture.  What on earth is dahak?  It’s a make-work project that may or may not be needed.  Note that the poor performance of the employee had no impact on his employment; he retained his job no matter what!  Of course, the pay was minimal.  Ultimately, this was Israel’s way of providing welfare.  I am sure you have now concluded that it is cheaper to just hand this family a welfare check, more so since in many cases it would have been temporary aid.  But the Histadrut didn’t see it this way; it went against everything they believed in; Israel after all was built with blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

I did do some dahak work; I am therefore in a position to relate to you (in a subsequent section) how the “work” on that particular “project” unfolded.

I said at the beginning that employers contacted la lishka when help was required.  Of course, employers had other means at their disposal to fill temporary positions.  For instance, a member of their staff can recommend a worker who would prove to be a better fit.  However, the Histadrut was against such action.  Workers had to be obtained via la lishka; this would ensure that the unemployed were treated fairly; it would be unfair to, say, keep somebody busy 80% of the time, and another poor soul only 30% of the time.  How was that second person going to survive?

But why would any employer agree to abide by such restrictive rules?  The Histadrut did not officially forces any business; it was more subtle; they issued permits, provided loans, controlled the unions, and helped a concern that found itself in financial (or other) difficulties.  It was a case of support us and we will be here for you if you need us.  (Incidentally, this is the kind of philosophy that keeps a socialist regime behind; conversely, a capitalistic system thrives since it does not put barriers in the path of the business world).

La lishka while efficient does not impress when you first visit it.  There was a waiting room where the jobless were seated.  The one in my district had only one individual who did everything.  When you arrived, he pulled your file and asked you to sit down.  You’re advised to bring reading material for the wait could be long.  Eventually your name is called, and you’re given a petek for a job.  Of course, you retain the right to refuse, and wait longer for more suitable work.  At times, nothing is offered to you, and you’re invited to try again tomorrow.  As already mentioned, you’re not left without work for long.

The pakid (bureaucrat) sat in an enclosed area, and the only contact was through a small window.  This was obviously for security reasons.  However, during the period I frequented la lishka, I never witnessed any violence; at the most there were raised voices.  Compared to the soukhnout, this was a peaceful place!

There was no privacy when transacting with la lishka.  Forget about a private office or even a secluded area.  The pakid, when need be, spoke frankly to the individual in question; never mind that everybody in the place heard him berating that person; in Israel people tell it like it is; and, early on, the new immigrant, like it or not, comes to term with that.

I remember that official fondly.  He was always courteous with me, and went out of his way to find me adequate work.  As we shall see, this was no easy task.

Virtually every person there was a new immigrant; once you’ve settled in the country, it was unlikely you’ll need la lishka again.

Lishkat Ha’avoda is now called Lishkat Hata’asuka (Unemployment Office).

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