National Teachers Union, Treasury reach 'historic' reform deal

Secondary school teachers to strike today in Jerusalem area; university students reject latest government offer.

students PM house 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
students PM house 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
National student unions rejected Wednesday a deal reached the previous day during negotiations conducted with the Prime Minister's Office to bring an end to the 33-day student strike that has paralyzed Israeli higher education. Tel Aviv University's Student union head Boaz Toporovski said Wednesday afternoon, "We will not sign in favor of this deal. It is unacceptable to us and does not hold up against the minimal red-lines in order for us to end the strike." Students said that there were differences between certain agreements reached during Tuesday's meeting and the actual content of the written document. According to students, a paragraph detailing that tuition would be dictated either by the students or by a mediator, was changed in the final draft. The word "agreement" was completely omitted from the document, they alleged. Earlier, approximately 30 students broke into a Shochat Committee meeting taking place in the Center for Educational Technology building in Ramat Aviv. The students blew whistles and shouted, "Baiga resign" to Avraham "Baiga" Shochat, the committee's head. The agreement, brokered between student union leaders and PMO representative Ovad Yehezkel, would have allowed students to appeal to an external arbitrator if they disagreed with the Shochat Committee's final recommendations on tuition. The arbitrator was to work with student and government representatives to arrive at a solution to the strike. In addition, some NIS 45 million was to be transferred to colleges for the purpose of lowering tuition, while some NIS 20m. was to be returned to teachers' colleges, restoring some of the funding cut to the colleges over the past six years. Haviv Rettig contributed to this report.