As the school strike ended its 32nd day Sunday, the Finance Ministry harshly criticized the Secondary School Teachers Organization and its head, Ran Erez. "The SSTO's decision to continue striking and push off the negotiating meeting set for this morning is a slap in the face and like spitting in the face of the National Labor Court," the Finance Ministry said in a statement after a scheduled 10 a.m. meeting was pushed off until the afternoon. "The SSTO would have acted more properly if it had accepted the court's suggestion and suspended the strike, which hurts students and teachers, for two weeks and negotiated seriously on the basis of the draft agreement the court proposed." After the afternoon meeting, the Finance Ministry released a lengthy statement slamming the organization and Erez. "The SSTO is engaging in deliberate foot-dragging and continuing to refuse to advance on the basis of the draft agreement that the National Labor Court approved," it said. "For example, the meeting that the court scheduled for 10 a.m. today was delayed until 4 p.m. by Ran Erez, who chose to travel north to be photographed with demonstrators." "Ran Erez arrived over an hour and a half late and again made his uncompromising demand [that] teachers' salaries be doubled, and said his time was short because he was hurrying to get to another TV interview," the Finance Ministry said. "Erez is busy with the strike and arranging demonstrations and not with finding a real solution to return the students and teachers to school," the statement said. "At the meeting, Ran Erez added that he was not ready to talk about reform, just about getting an immediate and substantial raise as a basis for negotiation, and left the meeting." Treasury wage director Eli Cohen reiterated that the Finance Ministry wanted additional proposals based on the draft agreement to find a solution and get the students back into class immediately. In response, the union said: "These are spins to try and shift the discussion from the main issue, about which they have nothing constructive to say."