High school teachers freeze strike till Tuesday

Finance, Education Ministry to begin intensive talks with Teachers Union.

school strike 2 (photo credit: Channel 2)
school strike 2
(photo credit: Channel 2)
High schools and junior highs across the country remained closed Thursday as teachers continued their strike in protest of the delay in a new salary agreement with the Finance Ministry. Nevertheless, the Finance and Education Ministries announced that they would begin intensive talks with the Teachers Union, the organization that "represents the majority of educators in Israel." The union will suspend the strike beginning Friday so as not to spoil Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies, but it will recommence on Tuesday. Meanwhile, student strikes also continued Thursday in universities and colleges as students continued to demand the dissolution of the Shochat Committee for reforms in higher education and a restored budget for institutions of higher educational. Committee head Avraham Shochat said that he was not planning to resign in the wake of the strike. In an interview with Israel Radio, Shochat stressed that there would not be a single student who will be unable to study due to financial difficulties. "Even if the committee decides to raise tution, the students will receive monetary grants to help them pay," added Shochat. On Wednesday, hundreds of students protested outside the offices of the Open University in north Tel Aviv where the Shochat Committee has its permanent offices, calling for the committee to be dismantled and demanding to immediately meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. After entering the facility, the students were surprised to discover that the committee's members were not present. Aware of the upcoming protest, it later turned out, its members had decided to meet in another, undisclosed location. Tel Aviv University student union spokesperson Dafna Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that police subsequently arrested three students, including Tel Aviv University student union head Boaz Toporovsky, as they were trying to break down the fence to disrupt the Shochat Committee. The three were later released from custody. Student demonstrators also marched down Rehov Einstein outside Tel Aviv University, blocked another road, held banners and shouted slogans like "Olmert, higher education is not a property for sale." A few students burned tires at the busy intersection of Rehov Namir and Sderot Rokach. The university student unions canceled a meeting with Education Minister Yuli Tamir. The university students went on strike Tuesday after demanding a meeting with Olmert, whom they accused of "not caring" about the "precarious" state of higher education in Israel.