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Teachers union threatens strike over new salary agreement

Union chief warns schools won’t open Sept. 1 if deal not inked by end of June, accuses Finance Ministry officials of discriminating against sector in which ‘90% of staff are women’

Israeli teachers protest as they demand better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on August 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israeli teachers protest as they demand better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on August 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Israeli Teachers’ Union on Sunday filed a work dispute, threatening to go on strike if it is unable to reach a new salary agreement with the state.

Union head Yaffa Ben David warned that schools will remain shut on September 1 instead of opening for the new school year unless a deal is reached by the end of June.

“The Finance Ministry has made degrading and humiliating proposals to the teachers,” Ben David said.

“We are already preparing for disruptions and severe sanctions in the education system. The education system is bleeding, and unfortunately, [the state] is taking advantage of the fact that this is a weakened sector in which 90% of workers are women — kindergarten teachers, teachers and principals.”

According to Ben David, the Finance Ministry proposed that a teacher’s starting salary be raised to NIS 8,200 from the current pay of NIS 6,800.

Teachers with up to 15 years of experience will receive an additional hundred shekels over their current salary, but there will be no bonus offered to those with more than 15 years on the job.

Yaffa Ben David, head of Israel’s Teacher’s Union in Jerusalem, on March 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“This is a shameful offer. We rejected it outright,” Ben David said. “We will not agree that more than 50% of teachers will receive zero additional pay, and starting teachers will receive such a degrading salary. Despite inflation and raising salaries, they continue to hurt teachers.”

Ben David lashed out at Finance Ministry officials, calling them “clueless 25-year-olds.”

“Their conduct in negotiations is the reason for the Education Ministry’s current state,” she claimed. “Finance officials are asleep, they… want to run the education system when their job is to take care of money.”

Ben David also claimed that the education system has a shortfall of “over 9,000” teachers for the upcoming school year, adding that schools might not open due to this lack of staff.

In a statement released following the announcement of the work dispute, the Finance Ministry said it was “disappointed that time and again, the union chooses to threaten strikes rather than have a dialogue.”

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