High school teachers back in class

But Jerusalem to be hit again Sunday; police blasted over violence at TA rally.

no school 298.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
no school 298.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
All of the nation's 650,000 seventh- through 12th-graders will be able to go to school on Friday, after the Secondary School Teachers Organization agreed to temporarily halt its strike over wage agreements that has shut down classes intermittently for two weeks. But some strike action is to resume next week. On Sunday, the union has warned that schools in Jerusalem will be closed. Thursday's labor actions were focused on the North and South. At issue are what the teachers call "foot-dragging" by the Finance Ministry on the renewal of wage agreements. Negotiations have been going on for several weeks, with teachers saying salaries have not been raised to compensate for inflation or other economic factors, creating financial hardship for many educators. The Treasury said this week that the strike showed a lack of good faith on the part of the union, since the negotiations were continuing and bearing fruit. The strike has been significantly impacted by a National Labor Court ruling last week that it must not interfere with matriculation exams taking place in the next few weeks. Many exams have already been delayed because of the strike. Also Thursday, parents in Sderot and other communities near the Gaza Strip appealed to the teachers to end their strike in the area, Army Radio reported. The parents say Kassam rockets are already disrupting the school routine, and that the labor sanctions are harming their children. Doron Solomon, head of the parents' committee at Sha'ar Hanegev High School, said it was "preferable for the students to stay in schools, since they're protected, unlike most homes in the Gaza periphery." Meanwhile, university student unions and police were at odds Thursday over the cause of Wednesday night's violence at a massive student demonstration in Tel Aviv. After the rally held outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, students began marching to the Ayalon Highway and blocked traffic along the Dan region's main artery. Police forcibly removed the students. In the ensuing clashes, five people were lightly injured: three students, a policeman and a journalist. According to the student unions, police employed excessive force. Their version seemed to be corroborated when MK Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) demanded an immediate investigation into the behavior of the policemen involved in the fighting and called for violent officers to be removed from the force. The international lecturer union's representatives in Israel blasted police "brutality" and called on officers to show greater restraint in the future. Police, however, say the students became violent while trying to illegally close a major thoroughfare. Seven protesters were arrested; six were released on bail Thursday morning and the seventh was expected to be freed as well. The two-week-old strike will continue for the foreseeable future, the students said. They are protesting reforms expected to be recommended by the Shochat Committee, which students believe will include a general tuition increase as well as differential tuitions for different disciplines.