Daycare workers reach agreements with government, end strike after five days

Finance, economy ministers agree to raise salaries, discuss budgets to allow every worker to care for fewer children

Illustrative: Teachers clean a classroom at a daycare center in Modiin on May 7, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Illustrative: Teachers clean a classroom at a daycare center in Modiin on May 7, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Workers at government-supervised daycares ended their strike on Thursday, with representatives saying they would return to work Friday after five days of protest over work conditions.

Union representatives meeting with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai reached agreements to end the strike.

These include salary raises and discussions to raise budgets in order to lower the number of children per worker.

“We’ve led the government to take responsibility for preschoolers,” the union said in a statement. “Full resources will be devoted to educators-caretakers…[who have] gotten the recognition they deserve.”

The strike by thousands of workers kept tens of thousands of babies and toddlers at home this week.

Daycare centers operated by WIZO, Na’amat, Herut Women, and Emunah participated in the strike. They were joined by the Yanbu nonprofit organization, which operates daycare centers in the Arab community, and the Naot Margalit organization of daycare centers.

Daycare workers protest in Tel Aviv, demanding better working conditions. October 3, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The centers had complained that workers “earn NIS 5,000 ($1,553) a month and are collapsing under the burden.”

Barbivai and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen had voiced support for the demands of the workers in recent days, though the economy minister had argued that striking was not the right move.

An OECD report last week showed that Israel spends about 0.2 percent of its gross national product on education for children aged 0-3, about half of the OECD average.

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