Strike at universities overshadow opening of new year

"2,500 junior academic staff at the institution will walk out, representing 75% of its entire academic staff."

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October 13, 2018 21:48
1 minute read.
Strike at universities overshadow opening of new year

Tel Aviv University . (photo credit: EYTAN HALON)

 
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The new academic year set to get underway across Israel’s universities on Sunday will get off to a rocky start as junior staff at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University begin unlimited strike action due to a dispute over pay and working conditions.

“The Ben-Gurion University Junior Academic Staff Association has announced that commencing Sunday and until further notice, 2,500 junior academic staff at the institution will walk out, representing 75% of its entire academic staff, to strike in protest against their working conditions and the continuing refusal of the management to offer substantial improvements,” the association said in a statement on Saturday evening.

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“On Sunday at 9 a.m., all of us are to be present at a protest at the university gates and are stopping studies for an unlimited period,” the Tel Aviv University Junior Academic Staff Association wrote on Facebook on Friday. “We are fighting together for fair working conditions and for the academic future of Israel.”

The Tel Aviv University association has approximately 5,000 members and is the largest workers’ association at the institution. Those participating in strike action primarily include teaching assistants, teaching fellows and external lecturers.

In September, following a year and half of negotiations, junior staff associations at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University announced a collective agreement with the Committee of University Heads of Israel, which they say will see wage rises over the next three years and greater employment security.

Junior staff members at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are said to be in advanced negotiations over a similar agreement.

Rejecting the agreement, the Tel Aviv University Junior Academic Staff Association said it only worsens their current situation, includes only gradual wage rises, and is contrary to employment law, including a refusal to pay for absences, including sick days and bereavement leave.

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“Tel Aviv University regrets the intention of the Junior Academic Staff Association to disrupt the beginning of the academic year,” the university said in a statement last week. “It is an unnecessary and unjustified strike which is harming the student body for nothing. The university management will do everything in its power to reduce the damage that is likely to be caused to the student body by the Junior Academic Staff Association strike.”

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