Just weeks after resolving a massive high school teachers’ strike, the Israel Teachers Union said Monday it was calling a new strike of kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools in a dispute with the Education Ministry over how staff are docked for sick days.
The strike was called for Wednesday, although special education institutes will operate as usual, as will all education facilities in communities close to the Gaza Strip.
The union is demanding an end to what it claims is the Education Ministry practice of considering each day that a staff member takes off for being sick as 1.4 days away from work.
The practice came to light recently after the ministry was required by law to list on wage slips the number of actual sick days workers took and the number that they were calculated to have taken, Hadashot news reported.
“The Teachers Union approached and raised the problem with the Education Ministry, for a prolonged period of time,” the union said in a statement. “The Education Ministry for its part is dragging its feet, and does not give a clear answer about this known problem.”
Secretary-general of the Teacher Union Yaffa Ben-David said the situation would be unacceptable in any other sector of industry.
“We will not agree to this outrage in which a teacher or kindergarten teacher is ill for one day and is docked for one and half days,” Ben-David said in a statement. “I don’t know any other worker in any industry that would agree to a situation like this. Everyone knows that the existing situation is not right.”
Earlier this month high school teachers ended weeks of strikes after the teachers union and the finance minister reached a new wage agreement for the teachers.
The teachers’ union representing high school staff had been demanding an immediate monthly gross wage increase for entry-level 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.
“We promised and now we have delivered,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “The starting salary of a teacher in Israel will be NIS 8,000.”
Under the new deal, their salaries will rise by a further 2 percent for the first seven years. In addition veteran teachers will receive a raise of NIS 480 that will be gradually introduced over four years.
That agreement put an end to weeks of strikes that had seen high schools closed on alternate days in different cities and towns across the county and teachers refuse to administer exams.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.