On Thursday, the cabinet gave approval for a major redistribution of the annual budget of the government in order to provide funding for an agreement that was recently made to hike the salaries of teachers.
Reports indicated that the decision had come after a heated debate. But, majority of the ministers did vote to back the proposal.
It required reducing the budget of the Welfare, Health, Defense and Public Security Ministries of about NIS 4.5 billion.
Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, and Merav Michaeli, the Transportation Minister, had left the meeting early to avoid having to vote on the redistribution.
Meanwhile, Omer Barlev, the Public Security Minister, voted against the proposal to cut the annual budget.
The budget department of the Finance Ministry also criticized the salary agreement and the cuts that have to be made.
It went as far as publishing an open letter on Thursday in which it talked about the ‘severe burden’ that the government expenses have to deal with because of the redistribution.
The letter said that meeting the budgetary implications of the salary agreement resulted in significant fiscal difficulty.
It said that government ministries would not be able to operate properly and their core activities may also suffer due to the proposed plan.
Yifat Shasha-Biton, the Education Minister, thanked the cabinet for giving its approval and was pleased that the deal would be funded.
She said that the day was a big one and it was because of such moments that she had become a part of politics.
She also added that she was grateful for being able to improve and change the future of education in the country.
The budget redistribution was needed for providing funds for a salary agreement reached between the Teachers Union and the Finance Ministry back in August.
Disputes had been ongoing for months before the agreement was reached and it was signed this month. Had the agreement not been made, the union had threatened to go on strike and the school year opening would have been delayed.
In accordance with the terms of the agreement, a salary of NIS 9,000 would be paid to new teachers per month and bonuses of about NIS 1,100 beginning from next year in September.
The salaries will first increase in January to NIS 8,207. After teaching for three years, employees would also be given a grant of NIS 10,000, as an incentive to continue with their profession.
The starting salary of new principals was also set at NIS 19,000. Moreover, school principals have also been given the authority of giving bonuses to school teachers for initiative and excellence.
These bonuses can be between NIS 400 and NIS 1,000. In addition, principals will also have the freedom of hiring specialist teachers, who could work outside the education system.
This would include teachers who specialize in the area of special needs education.