Israeli high school pupils got to sleep late Tuesday thanks to a second one-day strike in two weeks by teachers demanding higher salaries and claiming the government was procrastinating over talks.
The teachers’ union representing high school staff wants an immediate monthly gross wage increase for starting teachers, from NIS 6,400 ($1,820) to NIS 8,000 ($2,275), along with a comparable raise for teachers with up to seven years experience. In addition, the union said that teachers who have been teaching for eight years or more must receive an extra NIS 600 ($170) a month.
Union leader Ran Erez said some of the other demands would not cost the Finance Ministry anything, but would improve work conditions for teachers.
Erez claimed talks with the ministry broke down after it agreed to the wage hike but only on condition it be phased in over the next four years. Since the ministry was not prepared to approve the increase immediately, he said, there was no point in further negotiations and no alternative but to strike.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Twitter, “The quality of our children’s education depends on the quality and status of the teachers.
“The salaries of teachers starting today do not allow for a dignified existence and it is difficult to attract excellent people to teach.
“Therefore, the goal I set is a salary of NIS 8,000 for a beginner teacher, and I am convinced that both the Finance Ministry and the organizations will join in.”
The Finance Ministry criticized the union for taking “aggressive measures.”
“It is a pity that instead of trying to reach a compromise by conducting substantive negotiations, the organization chooses to take aggressive measures to the point of disrupting the high schools,” a ministry spokesperson said.