Jerusalem after-school activities were closed on Sunday afternoon as workers
went on strike to protest against salary reductions and worsening conditions
recently brought about by the implementation of a new reform.
Trajtenberg Committee, appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following
the summer 2011 social justice protests, decided to lower the cost of
after-school programs in order to ease the situation of working parents. The
reform was implemented last month in Jerusalem as part of a pilot for the
project, requested by the municipality.
In the process, the staff at
these programs have been switched over from a global salary to an hourly one,
resulting in a reduction of their pay.
Dozens of educators announced
their resignations on Sunday, explaining that they cannot afford to work under
the new conditions, and causing an unexpected shortage in staff at after-school
Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria joined the struggle
after receiving many complaints from local education centers and
“We went to the streets in the summer of 2011 calling for social
justice and opportunity for young families to live with dignity. Both these
principles can and must come together,” she said in a statement.
cheaper cost of after-school centers is significant and welcome, but it is
unnecessary and impossible to abandon the dedicated workers in the process, and
I call on the municipality to stop ignoring the problem and treat it before it’s
too late,” she said.
Sunday’s strike was organized after the Finance
Ministry met with officials of the municipality, representatives of the
after-school centers and parents on Saturday night.
Jerusalem municipality painted the meeting as fruitful; educators and parents,
accompanied by Azaria, called it “unsuccessful” and took to the
Some 2,000 children in the capital were deprived of after-school
activity for the occasion.
“The problem of salaries is solvable. The
Jerusalem municipality should engage now in finding a solution to assist
thousands of children who have no after-school structure today, instead of
spreading misinformation,” Azaria said on Sunday.
The Treasury released a
statement on Sunday explaining that in implementing the recommendations of the
Trajtenberg Committee, the government is subsidizing after-school programs this
year, an operation worth hundreds of millions of shekels and taking place in
many local authorities.
“The operation of such programs is conducted upon
the request of the municipality and it is responsible for such operation,” the
Over a hundred educators and parents had previously
gathered in Safra Square in Jerusalem on Thursday evening to demonstrate against
the change with the slogan, “Cheapen the after-school activities, keep working
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon addressed Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz on Sunday and called the issue a “real violation of the terms of
employment of about 400 workers of after school centers in
“Once again the standard practice in your office is to cut
and apply reforms at the expense of the weak in society.
I ask for your
intervention as soon as possible to prevent worsening conditions for hundreds of