Local Authorities Strike Begins, Closing Schools Across the Country3 min read
On Thursday, high, middle and elementary schools across Israel remained closed as part of a general strike in protest of measures included in the upcoming state budget by the government.
These would see funding from local authorities reduced, which prompted teachers as well as other education professionals to join the strike.
The Federation of Local Authorities called the strike and the Secondary School Teachers Association also backed in, as their members were also part of the labor action.
Ran Erez, the chairman of the Secondary School Teachers Association issued a statement later on Thursday.
He said that there would be a meeting of representatives from the local authorities federation, the Education Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the union about making a new labor agreement that would apply to teachers.
The strike saw most schools shut down for the day, with the exception of schools in Jerusalem, as the municipality had opted to not participate in the strike, and special education institutions.
Daycare facilities owned privately were open, as were private institutions for kindergarteners and preschoolers. A partial strike had been called in some other regions.
High schools in Mazkeret Batya and Kiryat Gat did not hold any classes. Municipal services were not available to the public in Petah Tikva, but schools were operating as per routine.
Schools were also open in Arad, with high schools being the exception. There were some local authorities that were also planning on joining the strike, but operations at junior schools were reduced.
These included Tirat Carmel, Ness Tziona, Or Yehuda, Ramat Gan, Kiryat Arba, Modiin Illit, Betar Illit, Kiryat Shmona, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Ata, Beit Shemesh and Karmiel.
Bat Yam announced that classes in schools would be conducted via remote learning.
The aim of the strikers was to gather support, while negotiations with the Finance Ministry are ongoing over the issue of wages, transportation for students, shortage of staff, pay for classroom assistants and special education.
All local authorities that were participating in the strike were not providing public services on Thursday as part of the strike.
Other than teachers, municipal staff was also part of the striking professionals from waste removal, student welfare departments, security, maintenance as well as informal education.
But, it was reported that private contractors carry out some of these services, so they would not be involved in the strike.
Haim Bibas, the Federation of Local Authorities’ chairman, said that they had begun negotiations with the previous government.
He added that they had given the new government some time to acclimatize, but they were not willing to wait any longer.
He said that the discussions were quite long, as they were reaching one stage after the other, but had not made any progress.
According to Bibas, they need at least 7,000 more classrooms across the country and there is a shortage of 3,000 teaching assistants.
He stated that more than 10,000 children are currently being taught in trailers. Therefore, a budget of NIS 300 million more is needed by local authorities for education services.