On Tuesday, the Teachers Union in Israel announced that they had decided to call off their strike. This means that the regular classes will continue on Wednesday and Thursday for elementary schools, middle schools and kindergartens. The school year will come to an end on Thursday.
According to the union, they had decided to put an end to the strike because of what Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Minister, had stated earlier in the day. He revealed that new salary agreements could be signed by the Treasury with the teachers without any legal impediment.
Union rejected Finance Ministry’s offer
The announcement of the strike on Tuesday had been announced on Monday because it considered the offer of increasing the salary of the teachers to NIS 8,600 inadequate. The union said that the Finance Ministry was just shaming the profession of teaching with such an offer.
Liberman disclosed that even though the Knesset was going to be dispersed soon and only interim powers would belong to the government, the Finance Ministry would still have the power to sign an agreement with the Teachers Union.
The chief of the Israel’s Teachers Union, Yaffa Ben-David said that this change means that the union can resume discussions with representatives of the education and finance ministries in order to come to a solution.
Liberman denounces the strike
The Finance Minister was displeased about the actions of the union and said that this was coercive behavior. He added that the union was just flexing its muscles before the school year comes to an end on Thursday.
The demands of the union state that new teachers be given a salary starting from NIS 10,500 and experienced teachers should also receive significant pay raises. Liberman has agreed that new teachers should get an increase in salary, but has also said that the vacation days of the teachers need to be adjusted.
This is for helping working parents, as it would cut down the number of working days on which their children do not have to go to school. Likewise, Liberman also wants to authorize principals to give higher salaries to great teachers in order to ensure excellence.
According to a source close to the Finance Minister, they have also demanded that the lengthy and complicated process of firing teachers who are incompetent should be changed. It will not be possible to come to an agreement until these issues are dealt with.
The Teachers Union is willing to talk about changing the number of vacation days, but they are not willing to talk about incentivizing teachers by offering them higher salaries based on competence instead of experience. They do not want to discuss this issue until they reach an agreement regarding an increase in basic salary.
One of the teachers in Israel and an activist said that the negotiations were being carried out by inexperienced and young officials of the Finance Ministry. They need someone like the Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman himself, or the caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid to get involved.