Parents threaten to widen school strike

National Parents Association says they will back teachers if Labor Court forces them into classrooms.

Ran Erez 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ran Erez 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The National Parents Association threatened Thursday morning to widen the scope of the recent school strike, saying they will keep their children out of all schools - from pre-school to high school - if the National Labor Court orders an end to the ongoing teacher's strike. The Union of Local Authorities, along with the Finance Ministry, filed a petition overnight Wednesday with the National Labor Court to force the teachers back into the classrooms. The parents say they do not want teachers to be forced to teach, and don't want to return to the same situation that existed prior to the current strike. A final decision on the matter was scheduled to be discussed at an emergency Parents Association meeting to be held on Thursday. the National Labor Court has yet to decide when to discuss the petition, but has given the Teachers' Union until Sunday to give a response. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Council of Local Authorities Adi Eldar, who was recently appointed go-between for the Secondary School Teachers Organization and the Finance Ministry in their attempts to end a nearly three-week-long teachers strike, announced Wednesday evening that he was throwing up his hands and resigning as mediator. Eldar, who participated in four meetings with representatives of both sides, said that "there [was] no choice but to approach a different forum." Eldar gave notice after the SSTO rejected a proposal by Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On. The offer includes the signing of a collective wage agreement, an additional five percent to teachers' wages over the course of the next five years and the promise of reform in the education system in the coming months. Teachers have demanded an immediate 15% raise in wages in exchange for a postponement of the reform process and additional duties. "Unfortunately, long hours of talks ended with [Secondary School Teachers Organization head Ran Erez] responding in the negative to the proposal from the finance minister. Therefore, my role as a mediator has come to an end," Eldar said. "The strike is entering its 20th day, and the authorities believe that there is no choice but to stand aside and wait to see how 650,000 pupils are wandering the streets." In an interview to Army Radio Thursday morning, Erez responded by saying, "In actuality, the Israeli government doesn't want a better education for the children, doesn't want to ensure their futures; [the government] wants the teachers to be babysitters at school. "Our system is crumbling," continued Erez. "Our children's futures must be invested in, and not in another F-15 [fighter jet]. What the Finance Minister offered is that teachers be satisfied with a one and a half percent increase in salary per year. That is an increase of NIS 20 per teacher; it's really a spit in our face."