Academic year begins on time; strike ruled 'unlawful'

National Labor Court prevents action; teachers union’s attempt to strike called “irresponsible and infuriating."

311_school out for summer (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_school out for summer
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The National Labor Court ruled the proposed teachers' strike unlawful on Tuesday night, ensuring that all schools began the academic year on Wednesday despite prior fears.
The Education Ministry asked the National Labor Court on Tuesday evening to issue an injunction against the Secondary Schools Teachers Association, following the organization’s surprise declaration of a one-day general strike in the secondary school system a day before the new school year was set to begin.
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Education Ministry officials and the union met Tuesday night to try to reach an agreement that would stave off the strike, which would affect junior high and high school classes.
The Secondary Schools Teachers Association had stated that the strike is in response to the government’s decision not to renew the teachers’ collective labor agreements.
Earlier Tuesday, the Education Ministry called the union’s decision to strike “irresponsible and infuriating,” and called on students to report to school on Wednesday as scheduled.
“The decision by the teachers union to hold a strike on the opening day of the new school year, which they announced less than a day before the school year starts, is an infuriating and irresponsible decision that harms the students,” the ministry said, in a statement.
“There is no truth to the statement that the Education Ministry and the Finance Ministry have refused to hold negotiations on the wage agreement. Negotiations are ongoing with the teachers’ union and the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday. To our distress, the union has rejected all of the generous proposals made in the negotiations,” the statement read.
The Education Ministry said that junior high school teachers already have a salary agreement under the New Horizons plan.
The ministry added that the government believes that “the decision to hold a strike in the junior high schools is of suspect legality and a lack of good faith, and violates the verdict given by the National Labor Court a year ago.”
According to Education Ministry statistics, some 1,529,000 students are scheduled to start school in 57,800 classrooms, up from 1,502,400 and 56,860 last year, respectively. In addition, the number of educational staff has been increased to 131,000 from 128,000 last year. staff contributed to this report.