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Histadrut head Ofer Eini launched a full-out effort on Tuesday to help bring the secondary schoolteachers strike to a close.
Eini, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Secondary School Teachers Organization (SSTO) head Ran Erez, and top officials from the Finance Ministry met with Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On at the Treasury for five hours Tuesday night to discuss his new proposal.
After the meeting, a spokesman for the Education and Finance Ministries said, "The Finance and Education Ministries presented the SSTO with far reaching proposals to solve the dispute and return the students to school. At the meeting, representatives of the Treasury and the Education Ministry made clear that the negotiations with the SSTO would be conducted within the limitations of the existing budget without harming the reform signed with the Teachers Union and the collective agreement achieved with the Histadrut."
"The Finance and Education Ministers stressed that the government has an irreversible commitment to the education reform and even allocated a large budget to implement it," said the spokesman.
Eini spent the 32nd day of the strike gathering support for a proposal that would be acceptable to all involved. Before the meeting with Bar-On, he had secured approval from Tamir and Erez, the Histadrut said.
The main point of Eini's proposal is a combined 13.5 percent immediate raise for the teachers in return for a commitment to the Education Ministry's reform plan. Five percent of the raise would come from the agreement for public sector officials already worked out and 8.5% would be just for the teachers.
Also included in his proposal are the issues of fewer students per class and adding more teaching hours in return for higher wages.
Last week, Eini also attempted to mediate the dispute and got the teachers and the Education Ministry to agree to his proposal at the time. However, the Treasury refused to give its approval.
If the strike is not settled before then, the sides must submit written progress reports to the National Labor Court by Thursday at noon. The court has said it was interested in holding another discussion session if both sides were interested.
While the Finance Ministry said Monday it had asked the court for another session, it said the SSTO did not want one. Therefore the court decided to wait for both sides' willingness to sit down together, the Finance Ministry said.
Meanwhile, late Monday night, the Forum of Parents' Committees decided to come out fully in support of the teachers. The forum decided to encourage as many parents as possible to attend the planned rally in support of the teachers this Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Doron Erez, head of the Forum, told The Jerusalem Post.
The forum also decided to create a non-profit organization to continue fighting to improve the education system even after the strike is finished, Erez said.
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