Teachers plan one-day strike next week as talks with Finance Ministry break down

Israel’s teachers’ union said Thursday it planned to hold a one-day strike next week as talks with the Finance Ministry over pay and terms of employment collapsed, Channel 13 reported. News.

The disruption is part of an ongoing fight by the union for better wages and working conditions.

No decision has yet been made as to when the strike will be called. The strike will include kindergartens and elementary schools. Although schools are due to end the year by the end of next week, colleges will end the term early on Monday. If the strike is called on Sunday or Monday, the colleges will also be closed.

Earlier in the day, representatives from the union and the Ministry of Finance met for talks but made no progress.

The ministry said in a statement to Channel 13 that the union “is not ready to give young teachers a meaningful priority” or discuss other changes “to advance the education system.”

Ministry sources told Channel 13 that Israel Teachers’ Union president Yaffa Ben David just “screamed and shouted” at the meeting without trying to negotiate.

Ben David, in an interview with the station, said ministry officials arrived “unprepared” and without any numbers to present for discussion.

Ben David said she would hold consultations later in the evening and assured that next week the union would step up measures, even going as far as a general strike.

The threat came after schools and kindergartens in Tel Aviv opened late at 10 a.m. Thursday as part of ongoing sanctions by the union.

Schools were closed in the southern region of Israel on Wednesday morning as part of the union’s campaign.

At the heart of the tussle are reforms planned by the Finance Ministry to reduce the power of the teachers’ union, including allowing principals to fire staff without union intervention and narrowing the pay gap between veterans and new teachers by setting salaries based on skill, as opposed to experience.

The union demands that new teachers earn a monthly salary of 10,000 NIS ($2,981) as well as a significant increase in salaries for experienced teachers, according to Ynet, which said some long-serving teachers only earn 7,500 NIS ($2,235) per month.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has also proposed that the number of vacation days in the school system be adjusted to approximate the number of vacation days offered to other workers, in a bid to ease pressure on working parents.

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