High school teachers threaten strike from September 1 amid stalled salary talks

Head of Secondary School Teachers’ Association: ‘We are preparing for a long strike’; Arab communities may also keep schools shut amid deadly crime wave

Illustrative: View of an empty school at in Tel Aviv following a strike of the Teachers Union, on June 19, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative: View of an empty school at in Tel Aviv following a strike of the Teachers Union, on June 19, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The head of Israel’s Secondary School Teachers’ Association, which represents high school staff, said Saturday that amid stalled negotiations with the Treasury over a new collective salary agreement, schools will not open September 1.

“One hundred percent there will be a strike on September 1st. We are determined not to open the school year and are preparing for a long strike,” the association’s head Ran Erez said in an interview with Channel 13 news.

Erez was slated to meet with Treasury officials as well as representatives of the Education Ministry and local government on Sunday, with less than a week until the start of the school year, the Haaretz daily reported.

The report said both sides report “significant differences” and a lack of any progress in the negotiations.

“The education minister cannot intervene because he does not have the authority to give wage increases or sign collective agreements. All he can do is say we’re right,” Erez told Channel 13.

Erez said Israel’s education system was “destroyed and deteriorating.”

Secondary School Teachers’ Association chief Ran Erez speaks at an education conference by The Marker business newspaper in Kiryat Ono, August 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

He said 20 percent of teaching staff positions are not filled, while “many others are teaching subjects they are not approved to teach, [and] students are being crammed into classrooms to overcome the lack of teachers.”

“The education system should concern every citizen and parent. We are the solution, not the problem,” Erez said.

Also Saturday, the National Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities said it would not open schools on September 1 amid a violent crime wave in the Arab community.

“It is not possible for students to study in schools in an atmosphere of constant fear, and we will not be able to function without the budgets that we are entitled to by law. The fight against the crime crisis and the release of budgets are related to each other,” the committee said.

According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, 156 members of Israel’s Arab community have been killed since the start of the year, mostly in shootings. During the same time frame last year, 68 were killed.

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