Technical colleges begin open-ended strike

Technical colleges begin open-ended strike

Staff in showdown with Finance Ministry over budget for Israel's trade schools; more than 20,000 students affected

ORT technological college in Maale Adumim (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)
ORT technological college in Maale Adumim (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Faculty at Israel’s technical colleges began an open-ended strike on Sunday, the latest move in a showdown with the Finance Ministry over the budget for the country’s 53 trade schools.

The colleges are asking the ministry to approve an emergency budget of NIS 140 million ($40 million), 80 million of which will be earmarked for the current academic year and the rest which would be allocated to the schools over five years. The Finance Ministry has offered an increased budget of NIS 90 million, distributed evenly over five years.

The impasse came to a head last week after college staff staged a multi-day hunger strike outside the Knesset. The colleges complain that government funding for students of technical colleges is only 25 percent of what is given to universities for their students, and that their general budgets have not changed over the last 30 years, leading to outdated equipment and facilities.

Student groups representing the more than 20,000 pupils at the colleges affected by the strike largely support the move.

Danny Kapari, head of the Technological College Student’s Organization in Beersheba, told the Ynet news outlet that he felt the general strike was “inevitable.”

The national university student’s union has said it would call a solidarity strike of students at all Israel’s universities if the issue is not resolved by the end of October, Haaretz reported.

Also on Sunday, post office workers throughout the country staged a limited strike in protest of what they said is “unreasonable pressure” placed upon them due to budget limitations, which create lengthy waits for customers and overextend the workers. As a result of the strike, post offices will close at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, several hours early.

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