School year starts without hitch thanks to court injunction

High school teachers attempted to strike in protest against salary reforms in a move that would disrupted classes for grades 7-12.

311_first day of school (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_first day of school
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Nearly two million pupils reported for the first day of school Wednesday, hours after the National Labor Court issued an injunction blocking the Secondary School Teachers Association from holding a one-day strike, which would have disrupted classes for grades 7-12.
The court’s decision followed a seven-hour hearing that stretched late into the night. The court issued the injunction at the request of the Education Ministry, which was infuriated by the union’s announcement of the work action on the day before school was set to open.
The union said the planned strike was in response to the government’s decision not to renew teachers’ collective labor agreements.
In their ruling, the judges said, “there is no way to positively view a general strike that is called by way of a press release issued a day before the beginning of the school year, without any sort of previous announcement to the responsible professionals.”
Secondary School Teachers Association head Ron Erez called the court ruling “a shame and a disgrace,” adding that he believed that the decision was made ahead of time through collaboration with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
“I don’t know why they kept us here until 4 a.m. so they could issue a ruling that they already determined before then,” Erez said, following the ruling early Wednesday morning.
Eighteen schools did not open Wednesday morning, following decisions by parents or local authorities. The closures affected over 10,000 pupils.
In Safed, the municipality’s decision to keep the schools closed was in response to what it said is insufficient funding for the city’s schools. The municipality said the strike was unanimously approved by the local parents association, whose members held a demonstration Wednesday morning outside the city’s central bus station.
In the Beduin towns of Segev Shalom and Rahat in the South, parents kept their children out of school to protest what they say is classroom overcrowding and poor transportation arrangements for pupils.