Hebrew University students protest racism and discrimination at Mt. Scopus campus.
(photo credit: ODED BAHAR)
Junior staff at all the Hebrew University of Jerusalem campuses started striking on Sunday, with no end in sight unless the university agrees to its demands.
According to the Non-Tenured Research and Academic Staff Union at the Hebrew University, 80 junior staff members are due to be fired at the end of the year, a move the group sees as part of a trend of a shrinking Humanities Faculty at the university, and one it has fought over for the past three years.
The strike will affect this week, the last week of studies at the university, and if it continues, will also affect the examination period at the university, with junior staff refusing to mark exams and final papers.
In addition to keeping on the 80 staff members, the union is demanding a long-term solution be set in place to rehabilitate the Humanities Faculty.
The union claims that the university is continually violating agreements signed with the senior and junior staff, including failure to issue letters of appointment, assigning extra tasks to junior staff without payment, and failure to promote junior staff to senior positions.
“There is no escape from a long strike until [the university] stops the arbitrary and routine dismissals and announces a principled freeze in layoffs until a comprehensive plan is presented for the Humanities Faculty, and a stop is put to the violations of the agreement,” stated union chairwoman Dr. Esther Sarok.
According to the Hebrew University, “as part of the process of renewal, streamlining and strengthening of the Humanities Faculty, a number of courses will be canceled and employment for a number of lecturers will not be extended.”
The university had been in touch with the union back in March of this year, it said, in an effort to allow the lecturers to find new jobs.
“We regret that the union chose to drag out time during those three months while evading discussions and directly harming their union members,” the university said, explaining that this is a process that has been going on for three years and is a “natural process that every organization goes through for better management.”
As a result, according to the university, 48 contracts with junior faculty members will not be extended at the end of this year, and an additional 35 staff members will have more limited hours next year.
“It should be emphasized that the majority of these teachers are temporary teachers who teach one or two courses at the university and this is not about teachers for whom this is their primary, full-time employment,” it said.
The university concluded by stating: “It is not our way to negotiate through the media.
We call on the leaders of the Non-Tenured Research and Academic Staff Union to return to the negotiating table and to avoid harming students during exams period.”