J’lem after-school workers, city reach deal

Salaries to be cut by only eight percent, according to deal reached after staffers strike.

Petah Tikva school 370 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Petah Tikva school 370
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Jerusalem after-school programs’ staffers reached an agreement with the municipality on Wednesday night to minimize recent salary cuts, which workers had protested earlier this week.
The agreement, reached at a meeting between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, parents, and representatives of the educators, states that the salaries of after-school programs’ workers in the city will be reduced by eight percent instead of the announced 25 to 50% resulting from the recent implementation of a new reform.
The Trajtenberg Committee, appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – following the summer 2011 social justice protests – decided to lower the cost of after-school programs in order to ease the situation of working parents.
The reform was implemented last month in Jerusalem as part of a pilot for the project, requested by the municipality. In the process, the staff at these programs had been switched over from a global salary to an hourly one, resulting in a reduction of their pay.
The staffers had gone on strike over the issue on Sunday, which triggered the meeting.
Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria, who joined the struggle after receiving many complaints from local education centers and parents, welcomed the agreement which will “allow after-school centers staffers to receive fairer wages and conditions than were first suggested.”
“As Jerusalemites, we are proud of the struggle we led together in solidarity – parents and educators. We know this is just the first step in regulating the salaries of teachers and assistants, and improving the quality of school centers as part of the reform, and we will work on the subject,” Azaria added.
“This program was imposed on us without informing or consulting with us, and now the municipality had to recognize us as workers whose rights have been violated,” educator and representative at the meeting Sarah Sela said on Thursday.
“It is important to clarify: We are not against the system. On the contrary, we are part of it, and our struggle is first and foremost to provide quality care for children,” she said.
Sela added that educators are determined to continue to join forces to fight a number of points that have not yet been dealt with, such as the issue of overcrowded and understaffed classrooms.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the agreement will allow the municipality “to operate all the after-school programs and give Jerusalem parents a quality education system at a lower price.”
“I’m glad we were able, together, to significantly improve staffers’ salaries, allowing them to continue to educate pupils in the city,” Barkat continued.
He also stressed that the Trajtenberg reform to cheapen after-school activities is “a revolution that provides a significant benefit for working parents.”
Barkat added that he has the intention of continuing to pursue and expand such services.