Teachers Planning One-Day Strike in the Coming Week
On Thursday, the Israel Teachers Union announced that they would conduct a one-day strike next week, after talks with the Financial Ministry over employment terms and wages failed. This disruption is part of the union’s ongoing struggle to negotiate for better working conditions and pay for the teachers.
No Decision About the Day
The union did not provide any details about the day when they will hold the strike, as it has not been decided as yet. It will be applicable to elementary schools as well as kindergartens. While the school year was scheduled to come to an end in the next week, the term for middle schools will finish a bit earlier. Monday is scheduled to be the last day for them, but if the teachers call for a strike on Monday or Sunday, then middle schools will also be closed.
Representatives of the Finance Ministry and the union had met earlier in the day, but there had been no progress. According to the ministry, the union is not willing to give priority to young teachers and is not ready to talk about changes that can advance the education system. In fact, ministry sources said that Yaffa Ben David, the chairman of the Israel Teachers Union had not tried to negotiate at the meeting and had just ‘shouted and screamed’.
As per Ben David, the ministry representatives were ‘unprepared’ and did not have any figures to share for discussion purposes. She said that consultations would be held by the union in the evening and that they would step up measures in the next week, which could also include an all-out strike. The ongoing sanctions of the union resulted in kindergartens and schools opening late in Tel Aviv on Thursday. On Wednesday morning, schools had been shut down in Israel’s southern region, as part of the union’s measures.
The Clash between the Finance Ministry and Teachers Union
The reforms of the Finance Ministry aimed at reducing the power of the teachers union is the heart of the clash between the two. These reforms include giving principals the authority to fire the staff without any intervention from the union. They also involve reducing the pay gap between new and veteran teachers by setting wages on the basis of competence rather than experience.
The demands that the union has put forward include a monthly salary of NIS 10,000, along with a substantial increase in the salaries of experienced teachers. They claimed that longtime teachers were currently only being paid NIS 7,500. Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Minister, also called for adjustment in the number of vacation days that are given to people in the school system.
He said that they should be the same as the number of vacation days given to other workers, in order to ease some of the pressure on working parents. The union is unhappy with the measures and has taken to conduct strikes in order to get the Finance Ministry to hear their demands and accept them.