Could strike action delay the start of the new school year?

The threat of strike action follows the July expiration of a previous agreement concerning increased teacher wages between the government and Israel Teachers' Union, called "New Horizon."

By
July 30, 2019 20:35
2 minute read.
First-grade pupils attend the first day of a school in Jerusalem on September 2

First-grade pupils attend the first day of a school in Jerusalem on September 2. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Traditionally associated with scenes of parental excitement and political photo-ops, the first day of the school year on September 1 might be put on hold.

While the summer vacation is due to end, a long-running dispute over sick days and pension plans between the Israel Teachers’ Union (ITU) and the government could see elementary and middle school teachers walk out of the classroom.

“I urge the state to wake up. If we do not resolve the issue of pensions and sick days, the school year will not commence on time,” warned ITU chief executive Yafa Ben-David. “We are fighting and will continue to fight for the basic and legitimate rights of teaching staff, without whom our country has no future and no present.”

Among its demands, the union is calling for an end to the “insulting” method of calculating sick days, in which teaching staff absent for one day are docked salary worth 1.4 days. The union is also demanding the establishment of a fund for staff who have run out of sick days due to extended illness, in addition to a one-off compensation payment to retirees.

The union has also called for a “clear and easy” method of calculating teacher pensions, based on an employee’s final salary.
The threat of strike action follows the July expiration of a previous agreement concerning increased teacher wages between the government and Israel Teachers’ Union, called “New Horizon.” The agreement has not been renewed due to limitations on the current transition government.

One female elementary school teacher from the Sharon region, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Jerusalem Post that “any improvement” to pensions or working hours would be welcomed.

“I am quickly approaching retirement age, and the issue of pensions is becoming increasingly real to me,” she said. “In any case, it is frightening to see the lousy amount that I will receive when I retire. That is why I’m glad the subject has returned to the headlines.”
Last year, excitement over the first day of school was marred by wage disputes with daycare center workers and bus drivers.

Some 80,000 parents were left without childcare after talks between the Finance Ministry and representatives of dozens of government-supervised daycare center organizations regarding increased pay for workers ended without agreement.

A one-day strike planned by private bus drivers working for public transportation companies that threatened to affect an estimated 250,000 students’ ability to travel to the first day of school was avoided after late agreements were reached.
   





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