Israel - Labor

In 2000 the estimated workforce was 2.4 million people. Approximately 31% were employed in public services; 20% in manufacturing; 13% in commerce; 13% in finance and business services; 6% in transportation and communications; 6% in agriculture, with the remainder in other industries. The unemployment rate in 2002 was an estimated 10%.

The majority of Israeli workers, including those in agriculture, are union members belonging to the General Federation of Labor ( Histadrut , founded by Jewish farm workers in 1920), which has a membership of 650,000. Histadrut's collective bargaining agreements are also available to non-members. The right to strike is exercised; 15 days notice must be provided to the employer. Palestinians in the occupied territories are permitted to organize their own unions and have the right to strike.

Children under 15 are not permitted to work except for school holidays. Employment for those between the ages of 16 to 18 is restricted, and these laws are regularly enforced. The law provides for a maximum eight-hour day and 47-hour week, and establishes a compulsory weekly rest period of 36 hours. By collective agreement the private sector has a maximum workweek of 45 hours, and the public sector went to a 42-hour week. The minimum wage is adjusted periodically for cost of living increases. As of 2002, the minimum wage was about $760 per month and was supplemented by allowances to provide a family with a decent standard of living.

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