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State-supervised daycares launch open-ended strike over work conditions

Unions urge immediate talks with treasury to resolve dispute; labor action will affect tens of thousands of toddlers

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 state-supervised daycares were set to begin an open-ended strike Sunday to protest their work conditions, in a move that will affect tens of thousands of toddlers who attend these facilities.

“The harm to parents, children and the Israeli economy is because of the government’s refusal to sit with the workers for negotiations,” the unions representing them said, calling for immediate talks with the treasury.

“Prime Minister Bennett and Finance Minister Liberman are willing to hold negotiations with Hamas but are refusing to hold negotiations with teachers who earn NIS 5,000 a month and are collapsing from the load,” the unions said.

The government-supervised daycares warned the state a month ago they would strike over severe staffing shortages and low salaries unless a solution was found. The labor action will affect some 50,000 young children enrolled in these institutions.

A protest will also be held Sunday morning in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai said she recently met with representatives of the daycares and expressed her support for their “justified” demands.

“Despite this, the minister believes it’s not right to have a strike tomorrow before exhausting the dialogue with the Finance Ministry,” her office said. “The strike is expected to harm thousands of children during a complicated time, a health crisis, and will prevent many parents from going to work as usual.”

Wednesday saw government-supervised daycares open after the Sukkot holidays, but with a delay of several hours as caregivers protested their work conditions.

Separately, from Sunday, more than one million Israelis will lose their Green Pass after a policy change dictated that a COVID-19 booster shot is required six months after receiving the first two doses. Among them are almost half the country’s teachers, according to an estimate from the Israel Teachers’ Union.

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