Schools, kindergartens open late in Jerusalem region as teachers’ strike continues

Schools and kindergartens in the Jerusalem region and parts of central Israel and the West Bank remained closed on Sunday morning, with gates set to open only at 10 a.m. in the latest action taken by them. hit Teacher’s.

The disruption was part of an ongoing struggle by the Israel Teachers’ Union for better working conditions.

Only kindergartens, elementary schools and middle schools were involved in the action – high schools and special education institutions were operating as usual.

Affected areas include: Abu Ghosh, Efrat, Beit Aryah-Ofirim, Beit El, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Ilit, Jordan Valley, Givat Zew, Gush Etzion, Har Adar, Hebron, Jerusalem, Mewaseret Zion, Megilot, Modi’in Maccabim -Reut, Modi’in You, Mateh Benjamin, Mateh Yehuda, Male Adumim, Male Ephraim, Kiryat Arba and Kiryat Ye’arim.

Public educational institutions across central Israel, except Tel Aviv, opened late on Thursday.

According to the Ynet news site, the teachers union plans to call a strike every day in a different part of the country until its demands are met – the school year ends at the end of the month, meaning That labor leaders have a limited time span to achieve their goals.

Teachers from schools across the country protest in Tel Aviv, May 22, 2022. (Avshalom Sasoni/Flash 90)

On Sunday, the central leaders were to have a meeting with the officials of the Finance Ministry.

Government and union officials are negotiating a new wage settlement as part of the upcoming state budget.

At the heart of the tug-of-war are finance ministry reforms planned to reduce teacher union power, allowing principals to fire employees without union interference, and the pay gap between veterans and new teachers by setting pay according to capacity. includes reducing. As opposed to length of experience.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also proposed that the number of vacation days in the school system be adjusted to approach the number of vacation days granted to workers, to reduce pressure on working parents. needed.

The union is demanding that new teachers make a monthly salary of NIS 10,000 ($2,981) as well as a meaningful increase in the wages of experienced teachers, according to Ynet, which states that some longtime teachers are only NIS 7,500 ($2,235). ) are earning.

Teachers union chief Yafa Ben-David at a protest by Israeli teachers demanding better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022. (Tomar Newberg/Flash 90)

In an interview after Thursday’s strike, Yafa Ben David, head of the Israel Teachers’ Union, lamented that the final wage agreement with the finance ministry was struck in 2019.

She threatened and expressed her desire to remove the finance ministry officials from their current position, “I will take all legal steps at my disposal to save the crumbling education system, including a general strike.”

Ben David claimed he received widespread support from his parents in his struggle for union and urged them to speak up.

Ben David accused the ministry of dragging a foot on the controversy, claiming that officials wanted to pay NIS 8,200 ($2,444) a month to early teachers. “We rejected it. Who will come for NIS 8,200?”

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during a press conference with Ron Tomar President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, and Merom Schiff on the National Parents’ Council, May 29, 2022, before a teachers’ union strike held at the offices of the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem . (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The weak coalition to which Lieberman belongs could still undermine his reforms. Education Minister Yifat Shasha-bitan has threatened to vote against the budget unless the teachers’ demands are fully met.

Shasha-Bitten, in an online post on Wednesday, voiced his support for teachers, saying the struggle for increased pay is a “justifiable and important cause”.

“Their cause is for all. It is about the future of the country. It is in the hands of the finance officers to stop the disturbances by paving the road and speeding up the dialogue immediately,” the minister wrote.

Ben David has emphasized in the Hebrew media that Israeli teachers are paid two-thirds less than the average for OECD countries, a commonly cited index of wealthier economies.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitn attends a news conference in Tel Aviv on May 9, 2022. (Avshalom Sasoni/Flash 90)

But an analysis by the Cannes public broadcaster found that the difference is much smaller once a more granular breakdown — accounting for bonuses and additional payments for experience — is made. Israeli teachers were actually paid as much or more than the average teacher in OECD countries, the network concluded.

To complicate matters further, schools across the country are facing a severe shortage of teachers.

At least 20,000 teachers and their supporters prove As part of an action led by the Israel Teachers’ Union for higher wages and better working conditions in Tel Aviv in late May.

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