Children across the country will return to school classrooms and kindergartens on Sunday as scheduled after intensive negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the Israel Teachers’ Union reached a successful conclusion on Friday.Major points of contention during the negotiations concerned pensions and sick days for elementary school and kindergarten teaching staff.According to the agreement reached by the sides, changes will be made to sick leave allowances and a single-time payment of NIS 2,000 will be handed to all retirees since 1986.The sides also agreed to establish a sick fund to assist teaching staff who are unwell but have run out of sick leave. Pensions will also now be calculated according to employees’ final salary, an improvement for teachers over the previous arrangement.“This is good news for all teaching staff, which would not have happened without the wonderful coming together of all teachers, together with the Finance Ministry and the personal undertaking of the finance minister and the wage commissioner,” said Teachers’ Union Yaffa Ben-David. “This is an unprecedented achievement for Israeli teachers. I wish all teaching staff, students and parents a full and productive school year. We will continue to be united because only we can continue to improve the status of teaching staff and the education system in Israel.”Under the deal, the teachers’ union has committed not to take labor action until December 31. The parties only entered into the last-gasp negotiations on Wednesday after the Tel Aviv District Labor Court ordered representatives to return to the negotiating table following an application for an injunction was issued by the finance ministry.“I applaud the agreements reached today which are the result of collaborative work and intensive discussions over the past few weeks, and that is something to be welcomed by the Finance Ministry and the Teachers’ Union,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.“We promised to do all that we could, together with the Teachers’ Union, to start the school year on September 1 for the benefit of the children, parents and teaching staff - and we succeeded. I welcome the agreements and wish everyone a successful and fruitful year.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Rafi Peretz also welcomed the agreement.“I congratulate Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Teachers’ Union chairwoman Yaffa Ben-David who, after intensive negotiations, reached an agreement that will enable the opening of the academic year,” said Netanyahu. “Our teachers are an important asset to Israeli society and I want to respect their work. I wish everyone a successful school year.On Wednesday, the National Labor Court in Jerusalem issued an injunction to prevent strike action by the Secondary School Teachers Organization, which threatened to disrupt the start of the year at the country’s middle and high schools.The application for the injunction was made by the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, the Interior Ministry’s Center for Local Authority, and the municipalities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa.“The conduct of the teachers’ organization – announcing a labor dispute every day for different reasons, with some of the grounds contrary to the organization’s commitment to maintain industrial order, and on the eve of the new school year – is not in keeping with the trade union’s obligation to act in good faith,” said the court in its decision.Demands made by the organization include providing additional resources for teachers and completing the reform in special education; providing work spaces for teachers; and ending the additional work required from teachers without suitable compensation.The court ordered that a meeting between representatives of the Education Ministry and the Secondary School Teachers Organization must be held within two weeks, in order to determine how to continue dealing with issues raised by both parties.