To avoid strike, Teachers' Union, Finance Ministry ordered to negotiate

"Unfortunately, the Finance Ministry continues to drag its feet," said Yaffa Ben-David, chairwoman of the Teachers' Union.

By
August 30, 2019 07:57
3 minute read.
Arab and Jewish students

Arab and Jewish high school students on the first day of school. (photo credit: COURTESY AMAL MATTAR)

The Israel Teachers’ Union and the Finance Ministry will continue negotiations until 8 a.m. on Friday morning, seeking to avoid strike action that will disrupt the new school year for elementary schools and kindergartens.

The Finance Ministry had sought an injunction against the union, but the court instructed representatives to return to the negotiating table.

Progress made in the talks will then be reported to the Tel Aviv District Labor Court, as per a court order issued late on Wednesday night.

“Given our concern for both parents and students, and in order to start the new school year as scheduled, the Finance Ministry will continue negotiations with the union in the coming days,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Finance Ministry will do everything in its power to ensure that parents and pupils are not harmed. We are disappointed that the teachers union does not withdraw its threat of strike action, despite the court’s remarks that their demands do not constitute sufficient grounds for a strike.”

According to the Teachers’ Union, negotiations will focus on three key areas of disagreement: pensions; the implementation of special needs education reform; and teachers with multiple places of employment.

Should the parties not reach an agreement, the court will hold another hearing at 9 a.m. on Friday to consider the Finance Ministry’s application for an injunction against the union.

“Unfortunately, the Finance Ministry continues to drag its feet,” said Yaffa Ben-David, chairwoman of the Teachers’ Union. “Since the very day that I assumed this position, I have conducted negotiations with the ministry. They had years to find a solution but chose to drag their feet. There is a real problem here: there are teachers that aren’t receiving the pension they deserve because the Finance Ministry doesn’t know how to calculate it. Teaching staff cannot be held hostage by the state. There is no other choice. Without a strike, the Finance Ministry has no incentive to reach an agreement.”

The National Labor Court in Jerusalem issued an injunction on Wednesday to prevent strike action by the Secondary School Teachers Organization, which threatened to disrupt the start of the new middle school and high school year.

The application for the injunction was made by the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, the Interior Ministry’s Center for Local Authority, and the municipalities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa.

“The conduct of the teachers’ organization – announcing a labor dispute every day for different reasons, with some of the grounds contrary to the organization’s commitment to maintain industrial order, and on the eve of the new school year [September 1] – is not in keeping with the trade union’s obligation to act in good faith,” said the court in its decision.

Demands made by the organization include providing additional resources for teachers, and completing the reform in special education; providing work spaces for teachers; and ending the additional work required from teachers without suitable compensation.

The court ordered that a meeting between representatives of the Education Ministry and the Secondary School Teachers Organization must be held within two weeks, in order to determine how to continue dealing with issues raised by both parties.

Also, Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz said on Thursday that “If [David] Ben-Gurion was still alive, he would prefer me as education minister and not the fake news coming out of the Yarkon bridge trio at the Democratic Union party.”

Peretz wrote on his Facebook page that “Channel 13 joined the campaign started by the fake news group from the Democratic Union, they picked out parts of my lessons with tweezers and they use it against us.

“There is a campaign here of incitement by the anti-religious and post-Zionism Left against religious Zionism and against anything that has to do with Judaism and tradition,” Peretz continued.

“We will continue with our truth and they will continue to spread hatred. Our love and values shall prevail.”

The Democratic Union was not long in issuing their response to Peretz, claiming that “Peretz shames himself with a language that does not befit an education minister in Israel. The only reason why [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu appointed him was to escape the hand of justice. Our children were sold for the sake of escaping prison.”


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