Teachers union, government sign long-awaited deal raising wages, adjusting vacation

New teachers to receive NIS 9,000 a month under agreement, principals to start at NIS 19,000; vacation schedule to be changed

From left to right: Teachers' Union Secretary-General Yaffa Ben David, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman hold a press conference following the new salary agreement with teachers on August 31, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
From left to right: Teachers' Union Secretary-General Yaffa Ben David, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman hold a press conference following the new salary agreement with teachers on August 31, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Finance Ministry, Education Ministry and the Israel Teachers Union signed a long-discussed new labor agreement early Thursday. The deal was first announced in late August, preventing a strike at the start of the school year on September 1.

Talks to solve the wage dispute had dragged on for several months, with union chief Yaffa Ben David repeatedly threatening a strike that would stop schools and kindergartens from opening if a deal was not reached.

Under the agreement, new teachers will receive a salary of NIS 9,000 ($2,700) per month starting September 2023, with bonuses of up to NIS 1,100. The salaries will first rise to NIS 8,207 ($2,300) in January.

After three years of teaching, employees will receive a grant of NIS 10,000 to encourage them to remain in the profession.

New principals will receive a starting wage of NIS 19,000 ($5,700).

School principals will be able to offer teachers bonuses of NIS 400 to NIS 1,000 for excellence and initiative. Furthermore, principals will be able to hire specialist teachers who work outside the education system, for example, experts in special needs education.

One of the major outstanding gaps between the sides was the issue of vacation days, which the Finance Ministry wished to match up with those of working parents who often struggle to find childcare while schools were on vacation.

Students arrive to class ahead of the opening of the school, at Orot Etzion School, in Efrat on August 30, 2021. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The sides agreed that Isru Chag — the day after the Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot festivals — will cease being a school vacation day, along with Lag B’Omer and the Fast of Esther.

In exchange, teachers will have time off between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, plus another two vacation days to use as they wish.

The sides also agreed to a more streamlined process for laying off teachers and a three-year wait before qualifying for tenure.

The agreement will last until 2026.

Ben David hailed the deal as a “huge achievement” for the teaching staff, “who are finally receiving the recognition from the state, and appreciation for their important work and their contribution to Israeli society.”

But she added that it was “just a first step” and that she plans to conduct further moves to “advance the education system and the status of the teaching staff to the top of the list of priorities in Israel.”

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton also praised the deal.

Michael Horovitz contributed to this report.

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