On Tuesday, the National Labor Court rejected the government’s attempt to forestall an impending strike of the teachers via back-to-work orders.
According to the Court, they could not accept the government’s request because of a technicality. The petition from the state had come as a response to another petition that the Manufacturers Association had submitted.
It also said that another request could be submitted by the state if it wants, which leaves the door open for a possible injunction against a teachers’ strike, just 36 hours before the academic year is set to begin.
An injunction was filed by the State Prosecutor’s Office in court for blocking the teachers from going on a strike on the first day of the academic year i.e. Thursday.
This was after the wage negotiations between the Teachers Union and the Treasury had hit a dead end. Finance Minister, Avigdor Liberman had spearheaded the petition.
It underlined the tensions within the cabinet itself about the issue, as Yifat Shasha-Biton, the Education Minister, distanced herself from it.
She also stated that issuing legal threats would not help in resolving the education crisis.
The injunction request had talked of the ‘massive damage’ on both kids and parents if summer vacation is extended because of a teachers’ strike.
It also accused the Teachers Union of going against every possible framework that could have led to progress.
Even though reports on Tuesday morning said that there were positive developments, sources later revealed that an agreement was still not close.
The fact that the treasury had filed the injunction showed that officials do not believe they will be able to reach an agreement in time.
The number of vacation days for teachers is one issue on which the two sides were not reaching an agreement.
The Finance Ministry wants to give teachers the same number of vacation days as other workers of the economy in order to facilitate working parents.
Therefore, the ministry wants the educational staff to take a few Fridays off from work and give up six days of vacation.
Reports on Tuesday indicated that the Union was willing to skip the vacation days that immediately follow Sukkot, Shavuot and Passover, along with Lag B’Omer.
However, they were demanding time off for teachers between the holidays of Sukkot and Yom Kippur. According to the Treasury, the stance of the Teachers Union was unacceptable.
It said that the deal that teachers were demanding was beyond the yardstick established in previous agreements.
The union also demanded that the injunction filed by the Finance Ministry be thrown out, as the timing of it was inappropriate.
It said that they were making progress in negotiations and the injunction would only damage the attempts.
Both the Education Ministry and the union had warned that there would be a mass exodus of teachers in the next five to six years because of the proposals put forward by the treasury.
The government does not have a lot of wiggle room because there is a cap of NIS 4 billion on what the Finance Ministry can offer to the teachers.