Israel’s Top Defense Establishment Earners: Scientists at Nuclear Research Sites

The highest paid salaried employees of the defense establishment are the approximately 3,000 people who work in its research and development agencies, which are called “Defense Ministry auxiliary units,” according to the most recent report of the Finance Ministry’s supervisor of wages. According to this report, in 2011 the average gross monthly salary in these agencies $6,631 − higher than at the Israel Electric Corporation ($5,826), but less than at Ashdod Port ($7,214‏).

The main agencies of this type are the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, the Soreq Nuclear Research Institute, and the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona. The Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Military Industries were also once auxiliary units of the Defense Ministry, but are now government companies.

Research institutions like the ones at Dimona, Soreq, and Nes Tziona employ engineers and technicians, some of them veteran employees whose salary costs are very high compared to other bodies in the defense establishment.

According to treasury figures, last year the Defense Ministry spent $308.3 million on salary payments to its auxiliary units, almost unchanged since 2011. Before the last Knesset election, on December 5, 2012 a new wage agreement was signed with the employees at the Dimona facility and the other agencies, which gave every employee a 6-percent raise from February. The pay hike was dubbed a “management increment.” According to the treasury’s report, the highest paid single employee in the auxiliary units was a physician who earned $23,054 per month. The next highest earner was a scientist who earned $19,924 per month. A total of 365 people earn a gross monthly wage of $9,536 and more. At the Defense Ministry’s request, the descriptions of these functions was kept confidential and do not appear in the Finance Ministry document.

Employees at the Defense Ministry’s Tel Aviv headquarters, the Kirya, petitioned the body that arbitrated labor disputes in public institutions with the demand that their salaries be equal to those of the employees at the Dimona and Soreq nuclear facilities and Rafael, but the petition was rejected.

There is now one high wage-earner at the Defense Ministry − the leader of a security-related development project who earns $23,831, more than the abovementioned physician. However, the salaries of the next highest earners fall short of what their counterparts in Dimona or Nes Tziona earn.

New directors were appointed last month to two Defense Ministry agencies. Dr. Ehud Netzer replaced Maj. Gen. ‏(res.‏) Udi Adam as CEO of the Dimona nuclear facility, and Dr. Shmuel Shapira was appointed director of the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona, replacing Dr. Avigdor Shafferman. The proposal to appoint Netzer was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Shapira’s appointment by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.  

The Nuclear Research Institute in DimonaCredit: Reuters

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