Teachers protest outside National Labor Court

strike 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
strike 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
High school teachers protested outside the National Labor Court in Jerusalem Tuesday night while the court's president Steve Adler was hearing arguments for and against ordering the teachers to go back to work. "They will not break us," the teachers chanted again and again, holding signs whose messages ranged from the intellectual to the graphic. "Coercing teachers gives birth to court orders," several signs read. One homemade sign in English declared, "This reform does not improve education, it simply insults teachers: Work more hours for less pay and worse conditions." One enterprising teacher had a noose around her neck with a sign that read, "The choking system" - a play on the one letter difference in Hebrew between "choking" (hinuk) and "education" (hinuh). As Secondary School Teachers Organization head Ran Erez entered the courthouse on Rehov Keren Hayasod, told supporters, "We will beat them!" Erez told The Jerusalem Post he had no information about the Tamir-Eini meeting or how it was progressing. For the most part, the educators' protest was orderly, though at one point a group of teachers handcuffed themselves together and blocked the street. One demonstrator told the Post, "This is a grassroots demonstration. It wasn't organized by the SSTO [Secondary School Teachers Organization] administration, it was organized by the local action committee." He added that "there are teachers from all the Jerusalem schools here - Masorti, Leyada [Hebrew University High School], Boyar, Ziv and more." Jack Pillemer, head of the English Department at the Boyar school, told the Post he wasn't out protesting because of money. "We've basically had enough. They [the teachers] have had it up to here. Teaching doesn't [provide] societal prestige. I always feel like I have to say, 'I teach, but I also do other things,' whenever someone asks me what I do," he said. "A window has closed. If it is not opened to let in fresh air, to see a panoramic view of the future, then we are [all] doomed," he added. At the same time, he admitted that better wages were also important. "My pay stinks," Pillemer bluntly stated, "We do really important work, and we try to do it well... [but] in order to make ends meet, I need to take two other jobs on top of my full-time teaching position." The National Parents Association head told Channel 1 during the rally that the parents in their organization would not send their children to school on Wednesday, as a sign of solidarity with the teachers. Although teachers have called for his intervention, President Shimon Peres said he would not intervene unless the government asked him to do so. Peres made this clear on Tuesday during a press conference ahead of his state visit to Turkey on Sunday. Asked if he would try to help, Peres said he could not do so while the government continued with its own attempts to reach an understanding with the teachers. Greer Fay Cashman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.