Talks resume on lecturers strike

University heads: If no progress in negotiations by Thursday, the academic year will be cancelled.

protest 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
protest 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Senior lecturers, university presidents and Finance Ministry representatives reconvened on Tuesday afternoon to try and bring an end to the senior lecturers strike. After Monday night's meeting, which was also attended by Education Minister Yuli Tamir, the Council of University Presidents (CUP) announced that if there is no progress in negotiations by Thursday, the entire academic year will be cancelled. Monday's talks came after the National Labor Court declined to issue back-to-work orders to the professors and instead gave the sides another week to negotiate. The judges urged the sides to negotiate as intensively as possible and come to an agreement before the next court debate on the issue, scheduled for next Monday. "It would be good if the parties would advance the negotiations between them with insight with the aim of bringing the disagreements between them to an end before the next debate in front of us," the judges concluded their decision by saying. "Do that with consideration for the future of higher education, academic research and the tens of thousands of students which look to the senior lecturers and the flag bearers of higher education and research in Israel," Senior Lecturers Union (SLU) head Prof. Zvi Hacohen sent an urgent letter to CUP head Prof. Moshe Kaveh in a similar vein on Sunday. "We deplore the decision to ask for back to work orders. Not only because the chances or getting them were slim, but because the request caused the Treasury to delay the talks because they hoped for a positive decision from its perspective. Now, when it has become clear that the court has dismissed/postponed your request, I ask you to urgently assemble all the relevant parties and to negotiate continuously and to the point until 'white smoke' goes up. Meanwhile, the National Union of Israeli Students has begun preparing to sue the state and the universities for nearly NIS 7b. if the semester and the academic year is cancelled. "There are only a few days left to save the semester and we are interested in making every effort to save it. I hope the Treasury and the government feel the same way," Hacohen wrote. NUIS Spokeswoman Efrat Brosilovski explained how they calculated the amount of the suit. "According to conservative estimates, we are talking about NIS 2,500 monthly salary per student plus NIS 2,000 in rent plus living expenses of NIS 1,500, all of which comes to NIS 6,000 per month. We are talking about 110,000 students so that equals NIS 660,000,000. Multiply that by ten months, it equals NIS 6,660,000,000. "In addition, if the semester is cancelled, the NUIS will demand a full tuition refund from the universities for all courses that weren't taught," she wrote in a statement. Another education strike may be waiting in the wings as the Histadrut Labor Federation announced that all teachers in special education institutions in Jerusalem would begin striking Tuesday to protest the difference between their salaries and their counterparts' in other cities, Army Radio reported.