Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has contacted the State Prosecutor’s Office in an attempt to prevent the Teachers Union from striking on September 1, the day on which schools are scheduled to start following the summer vacation.
“I hope that the Education Ministry will join our demand to start the school year, and at the same time we will continue negotiations,” Liberman said in a statement. “Until the first bell rings, I will negotiate. I think that the gaps are closing, but they still exist.”
Liberman spoke with Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday to update him on the situation. The two agreed to “make every possible effort” to open schools.
“We are working to start the school year as planned,” the prime minister said following the meeting. “I will examine the injunction issue but I implore all parties to respect negotiation proceedings.”
Sources in the Finance Ministry noted that talks with the union on Sunday were “more substantial” than they had been previously, Walla News reported. The main stumbling block continues to be a standoff on a wage hike for experienced teachers, the report stated, with the union so far turning down a reported Finance Ministry offer of an additional NIS 400 a month for teachers with more than 15 years of experience.
Education Minister: This is a national crisis, Liberman strikes back
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton accused Liberman later on Sunday of “not being interested” in reaching agreements with the teachers or in the “future of Israel’s schools and students.”
“Those who seek injunctions, while the parties are still at the negotiation table, prove they are not interested in getting a deal nor in the future of the education system or its students,” she said in a statement.
“This is a national crisis,” the education minister declared. “It is time to convene the cabinet and solve it.”
Liberman hit back at Shasha-Biton’s accusations, tweeting instances when the Education Ministry used injunctions to prevent strikes.
היום אנחנו כבר ביום שאחרי ה-27 באוגוסט ובגלל שמשרד החינוך הפעם בחר משיקוליו שלא להוציא צווים נאלצתי אני, מתוך אחריות, לעשות זאת.— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) August 28, 2022
“Because the Education Ministry chose, due to its own considerations, to not apply for an injunction, I, out of responsibility, had to do so,” he wrote on Twitter.
Teachers Union chief calls for Lapid intervention to solve crisis
Teachers Union head Yaffa Ben-David called on Sunday evening for an “immediate intervention” in negotiations by Liberman and Lapid, accusing the Finance Ministry of “dragging its feet” to prevent a conclusion to talks.
“I do not share the prime minister and the ministry’s optimism [that schools will open on September 1],” Ben-David said in a Channel 12 interview. “If the FM continues to be inflexible in negotiations, it cannot happen.”