Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"I am a poor diplomat" -- Israeli diplomats packing bags over low pay

YNet News is reporting that Israeli diplomats are packing their bags and heading home over low pay. Spouse employment features in the story, too. Is that surprising? Excerpt:

Y. like eight other Israeli diplomats, recently told the Israeli Foreign Ministry that he will be shortening his term of employment – over the low pay.

Three diplomats in the US, two in Latin America, two in Asia and one in Europe are joining him in returning home – they include a spokesman at a large embassy and an important envoy at another embassy.

"My wife was forced to leave her job because of my employment with the diplomatic service, so she works as a secretary with the delegation making $1900 a month," says Y. who has shortened his contract by over a year.

"Most of her salary pays for our kid's education and she is frustrated that I'm keeping her here as a secretary." Y. makes just $4,800 a month – and that includes all the extras. That might sound like a lot when converted into shekels, but life abroad means that his expenses are much higher than they would be in Israel.
Y. and his colleagues describe a bleak reality where people who are supposed to be representing the country, live in near penury – where expenses often come out of their own pockets and parents are asked to help out.

"I find myself taking the metro to a meeting with the President of the United States Barack Obama, because if I take a car the expense would be crazy," says Y.

L. will be returning to Israel after only four months in his diplomatic role. "We have $1,500 a month that our parents give us just so that we can make ends meet," he explained.
"They don't receive travel reimbursements and don't attend diplomatic events," he stated. "They don't receive overtime and are expected to work around the clock. We fail to understand why diplomats who serve on behalf of their country need to subsidize Israel."

According to him, diplomats prefer to go back to Israel and receive the meager salary – but at least their wife/husband can find a normal job in Israel and increase the monthly family income.

Read the whole thing here.

In a related news, Haaretz.com has an item about an interruption at the Ambassador's conference in Jerusalem this week when the foreign ministry's workers' committee launched a protest on Israeli diplomats' low wages. Apparently, committee representatives arrived at the conference hall wearing shirts with the slogan "I am a poor diplomat" while blowing whistles.

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