Teachers protest outside of the Education Ministry in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Teaching professionals who have been protesting over a failure to receive proper payment for their work took their grievances to the streets on Wednesday.
The employees have been in a dispute for some two weeks after the majority of them did not receive their full salaries for September. On Thursday they held a demonstration outside of the Education Ministry offices in Tel Aviv.
Amnon Zilberman, an educator who taught and served as a principle at the Ben Shemen youth village and at the Givat Hod and Nahalat Yehuda boarding schools attended the protest, saying, "I am deeply ashamed. The despicable government of Israel, which never ceases to unpleasantly surprise its citizens and to break its own negative records, has done it again. Its handiwork has put hundreds of educators, the people responsible for the care and guidance of our children, into the circle of poverty, is turning them into welfare cases and has led them to the brink of starvation. It is sad and it must change. It's all a matter of priorities and the importance that you place on this sacred thing - educating the next generation."
A sixth grade educator at a school in Tel Aviv said of the crisis: "Every year in September and October we have problems. When I got my bachelor's degree, I had to chase after my raise and now after my masters its the same story. They did not pay me for my extras, it is simply a humiliating paycheck."
A design teacher added: "We have been fighting for our salaries for many years. It takes us three or four months to get the right pay each school year, and even then it is not a respectable salary. The demands of the job are great, but we never feel as if we get the respect we are due."
Veteran teachers say that they also face problems after decades in the education system. An English teacher who has worked for more than 25 years said: "They owe me thousands of shekels. I left to work in a peripheral area that is supposed to offer more pay and when I came back to the Center they did not recognize my tenure. I am trying to get my bonus for tenure for a year I worked 11 years ago.
Eyal Namer, one of the protest's organizers clarified the teachers demands: "We come to work everyday, around the clock, in the morning, at night and on holidays. We are always there for the children. We are witnessing the Education Ministry being taken over by the lottery - every month we scratch off the cards that are our salaries and we don't know what we're going to get. It is crazy how much an educator earns. We are demanding transparency, we want to know how much we earn, we demand an educational course on the subject of salary - How to read your paystub without the help of consultants or accountants. We want a clear and fair paystub."
The chairman of the shool principal's union, Menashe Levy, declared over the holidays that he was lending his support to the struggle after a forum of parent groups as well as the student and youth council announced their support: "I have serious complaints for the Education Ministry on the basic lack of understanding that the most important resource in the education system is the teachers," Levy said.
The educators' protest began on Rosh Hashana when a number of teachers saw to their surprise that thousands of shekels had been deducted from their paychecks without prior warning. The Education Ministry claimed that the deduction was made due to a public transportation reform that led the Finance Ministry to order that all public workers, including teachers, have the amount deducted from their pay. The workers claimed that "it was not a specific problem, but rather an ongoing issue that returns every school year."
The Education Ministry said in response that "teachers are the backbone of the education system, and their importance cannot be overestimated. We understand the anger and we will do everything in our power to solve the problem as soon as possible. The matter of the deduction from salaries stems largely from the Treasury's reform in transportation funding. Other parts of the reduction have to do with various salary issues. In all cases the Ministry gave the money back to the teachers. Teachers who did not receive their full salary, are requested to contact the helplines set up by the Ministry, which are active including on the intermediary days of Succot. In addition, a special team has been formed in cooperation with teachers and principals. The Ministry continues to be at the service of teaching professionals in order to ensure that everyone will eventually receive their full salaries."
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