Religion Magazine

MK Moshe Gafni on Haredi Employment Difficulties

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Moshe Gafni is  deserving of being pointed out for a couple of noteworthy comments he made. Instead of separate posts, I am bundling them into this one post.
1. Gafni blasted the Finance Ministry for the way Haredi women are treated in the workplace. Gafni says they are taken advantage of because they are "captives" and it is known they do not have other options. Haredi women are paid only half of what their secular counterparts are paid in similar hi-tech positions.
The representative of the Finance Ministry in the committee session did not have any response to the arguments and questions posed to him.
source: Kikar
I do not know why the Finance Ministry is the target of Gafni's ire. Private companies choose to employ groups of Haredi women. The groups of Haredi women make unique demands as to the style of the work environment, and the company offers them a salary, which they accept.
The salary itself is insulting, but they agree to it. It is also a function of the specific environment they demand, and the fact that these women are not really looking for employment in the free market - meaning, if the women are not willing to demand more with the threat of leaving or looking elsewhere, they do not have the power to demand more money.
And, more specifically, why is the Finance Ministry at fault? We are not talking about haredi women who are employees in the public sector, where the Finance Ministry might need to be involved. We are talking about women employed in the private sector. What does the Finance Ministry have t do with how much Matrix or City Book or any other such company pays the women they employ? As long as they are complying with the law, i.e. paying minimum wage at minimum and whatever other things they are obligated to pay as employers, what is the involvement or blame of the Finance Ministry?
2. the statement made by Gafni, in that same committee session, was regarding the way the haredi women are taken advantage of, and he said "because they know the women are captives"
It is a funny thing to say. One might describe that response to be appropriate as well to describe the way the Haredi leadership has responded to the women who want to move into more community leadership positions, and to the women who want to go into academia and be able to earn higher salaries as teachers and administrators. The Haredi leadership has banned women from higher education, they have banned women for running for positions in politics, and they explicitly have said that women earning higher salaries is  danger to the family unit and they should not look for careers and increased salaries.
One might use Gafni's words to describe the women in the Haredi community - they are captives and have nowhere else to go, and that's why Haredi leadership is so easily able to keep them down.
3. MK Gafni then spoke out from the Knesset podium about the way Haredi male employees in general are treated.
Gafni complained that the Finance Ministry wants the Haredi men to integrate into the workforce, but after 20 years of learning in yeshiva they are only offered jobs such as being a dishwasher or floor washer, and the like - employment opportunities that are normally filled by the parts of society that are the lowest of intellect..
According to Gafni, someone who spent 20 years learning gemara are the most brilliant and at the highest intellectual level, and shouldn't be insulted like that.
source: Kikar
Again, I am not sure what Gafni expects. No matter how intellectual a person is, no matter how learned he or she is in any specific topic, if they do not have the skills workplace needs, they are going to have trouble finding employment. Doe sit matter how brilliant Shmulik is in gemara and halacha, if he never learned law and passed the bar exam, or if he never learned computer programming or to be a doctor or engineer or accountant or business management or banking? Should a hospital looking to employ a male nurse hire a haredi man just because he is an intellectual and spent 20 years learning gemara?
What is it that Gafni wants?
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