|Ben Gurion University Recognizes its Cleaners|
Her 21 year-old daughter Sara serves in the Israeli Defense Force. “Despite all the sacrifices and upheaval of immigrating to Israel, it is worth it when I see my daughter flourishing here. She will study at university when she leaves the army.”
Dr. Mevoyan is one of 200 cleaners at Ben Gurion University who formed a Workers Committee earlier this year and joined the Koach La Ovdim Democratic Workers' Organization, with support from two NIF grantees Students for Social Justice and Itach – Women Lawyers for Social Justice and organizational and media consultancy from SHATIL. Almost all the cleaners are female immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union.
The cleaners earn the minimum wage of $5.50 an hour. Since they formed the Workers Committee in May, the subcontractors that employ them have been forced to pay for vacation time and pension rights, legal entitlements they were previously denied.
Moreover, the university has also acknowledged the important role the women perform. In the days before the High Holidays, the university allowed Dr. Mevoyan and her colleagues to hold a pre-festival celebration in one of its main halls.
Michal Hochberg of Students for Social Justice made a toast at the festive event. She said, "Over the past year we have seen a breakthrough in improving your work conditions. Over the next year, our aim is that you will be employees of the university, which will take full responsibility for your employment rights, rather than the current situation where you are working for subcontractors only interested in their profits."