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 on Sunday.
“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 [Sept. 1] new school year – is not in keeping with the trade union’s obligation to act in good faith,” said the court in its decision.
“[The organization’s conduct] does not assist the establishment of good working relationships and solving issues that naturally arise.”
The application for the injunction was made by the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel (FLAI), the Interior Ministry’s Center for Local Authority, and the municipalities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa.
Last week, the Secondary School Teachers Organization chairman Ran Erez announced the threat of strike action, citing the “arbitrary” addition of extra work for teachers, increased form-filling and bureaucracy, and the lack of good faith in the working relationship between teachers and the Labor Ministry.
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 also held that a meeting between representatives of the Ministry of Education 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.
“I applaud the court’s decision that prevented an unnecessary strike,” said FLAI chairman Haim Bibas. “The citizens of Israel will not be held hostage by the chairman of the teachers’ organization, who promotes a personal agenda regardless of the agreements that he signs and the reality in the field. Under my leadership, local authorities will continue to work so that the school year opens as planned.”
While the country’s high school students may commence the school year on schedule, the Israel Teachers’ Union contested an injunction requested by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday evening to also prevent strike action next week in Israel’s kindergartens and elementary schools.
Following a lengthy hearing at the Tel Aviv District Labor Court, the judge ordered the union and ministry to enter into intensive negotiations until Friday morning at 8 a.m., and report to the court regarding progress.