Monday, June 05, 2006

Circles of Justice

(Inspired by Imshin and Treppenwitz)

B’Maagalei Zedek (Circles of Justice), a grassroots social-justice organization founded in 2004, has issued a petition calling upon Education Minister Yuli Tamir to protect its most vulnerable workers from exploitation and to give them basic employment rights.

B’Maaglei Zedek is the organization that originated the Social Seal (tav hevrati in Hebrew), in effect a certificate of social kashrut, encouraging consumers to patronize restaurants and shops that pay their employees according to law and do not exploit them. (Scroll down the page for the relevant information.)

The petition is in Hebrew. Here is my own free translation of it. (Any mistakes in the translation are mine.)

A call to the Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir:
Let your first act be to stop the exploitation of contract employees in the educational system.
We ask that the first educational act you perform serve as an example to our children and school pupils.
The basic rights of human dignity and social justice (not to mention the principle of obeying the law) require that the acts of thievery against thousands of contract employees who work for the educational system as security guards and cleaning personnel be stopped.
At the entrances of our schools stand security guards who do not receive the minimum wage and benefits guaranteed them by law. Cleaning personnel, who arrive when the schools are already closed, are not paid on time and receive no benefits. The contracting firms that employ them often subject them to scandalously high fines for no reason at all.
The ministry you lead cannot ignore this. It must not act hypocritically, providing an education while exploiting its workers so severely.
The accountants who work for the Ministry of Education wilfully ignore the exploitation by choosing contractors whose prices are so low that they cannot possibly provide their workers with the most minimal salary and benefits.
Even if this decision involves an increase in the budget, and even if, in the worst case, it involves cutting half the teaching hours (a cutback which must be fought), we believe that an hour of real educational action that will serve as an example to our children is worth an hour of pompous talk about principles.

One can sign the petition in English as well. From right to left, the fields are: name, age, profession, e-mail address and telephone number. The only required area is the one for the signer’s name, which is marked with a red asterisk. To send your signature, click the button below the spaces provided, just above the list of names.

B’Maagalei Zedek takes its name from Psalms 23:3, which is familiar to us in English as “He leads me in straight paths [literally, circles of justice] for His name’s sake.”

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