University staff end 2-week strike after wage deal reached with Finance Ministry

New collective deal, achieved after 18 months of talks, includes salary hike, ‘promotion of excellence in research,’ and consensus to keep system ‘stable’ until at least 2027

Students at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus on the first day of the school year, October 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Students at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus on the first day of the school year, October 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

An umbrella group representing senior staff at leading universities said Monday that it was ending a labor strike launched two weeks ago after reaching a wage agreement with the Finance Ministry.

The announcement came following hours of negotiations held at the Council for Higher Education offices in Jerusalem, capping about 18 months of talks.

In a joint statement, the Committee of University Heads and the ministry said the agreement includes “gradual salary increases for faculty members, promotion of excellence in research and teaching, stability in the system until the end of 2027, and targeted answers to other issues.”

The strike included the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of Haifa, Bar Ilan University, the Technion and the Weizmann Institute.

Since May 20, faculty members at those institutions have not taught classes, though examinations have been held as scheduled. An earlier, one-day strike was held on May 1.

In light of the agreement and the end of the strike, classes were to be held as usual at most of the university sites. Ben-Gurion University was to hold classes online, with in-person classes resuming on Tuesday.

Senior staff began the strike in protest of the delays in holding negotiations for reaching a collective wage agreement. A previous agreement expired in 2019 and since then, efforts to negotiate fresh terms had failed.

A key sticking point in signing a new collective agreement was the size of the wage increase, the Haaretz daily reported. Also, the Finance Ministry wanted around 10 percent of faculty members to sign individual employment contracts rather than the collective package.

Faculty members claimed that with no agreement in place since 2019, their wages had effectively been reduced by 8.75%, with further erosion expected in the future.

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