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Teachers reject the Ministry of Finance’s proposal to end the strikes

The teachers’ union on Monday rejected the Finance Ministry’s proposal to end the months-long teacher strikes, saying the Finance Ministry was manipulating the numbers.

The proposal marked the end of a month-long freeze in negotiations after the union rejected the ministry’s offer in June.

However, the union said on Monday that the newly submitted proposal was “even worse than the current situation” and added that it would continue to fight for young teachers to receive NIS 10,000.

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According to a statement released by the Ministry of Finance, the offer envisages a salary for young teachers of 9,000 shekels in the first year, which is 30% more than they currently receive.

In addition, teachers would be entitled to a bonus of NIS 18,000 after three years.

Principals would benefit from more flexibility and be able to create new positions according to the specific needs of their school. Teachers who are selected to fill these new positions will receive a bonus of 600 shekels.

Under the proposed reform, the starting salary of school principals will increase to 18,000 NIS, and they will receive an additional 2,000 NIS per month if they work in positions other than teaching.

In return, teachers’ working hours would be increased to increase the minimum number of working hours for a full-time teacher from 50% to 70%.

Pupils and teachers would also have their five-day holidays shortened in an attempt to ease the burden on working parents.

“Unfortunately, once again the meeting ended before it even started,” the teachers’ union said in a statement.

Yaffa Ben-David, Secretary General of the Teachers Union, at a protest by Israeli teachers demanding better wages and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“Treasury officials continue to make offers that drastically disadvantage teachers while trying to manipulate the numbers. By such behavior, they continue to deepen the crisis in the Israeli education system and call into question the timely return to school,” the teachers’ union added.

In addition, according to the union, the differences between the parties remain large and called on Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to intervene.

After talks broke down last month, the ministry said it would require unions to propose improvements before any pay deal could be reached.

“If we offer higher wages without accompanying changes that benefit the system, it could set a precedent for other industries with which the department signs wage agreements,” a Treasury official said at the time.

The finance ministry also accused the head of the teachers’ union, Yaffa Ben-David, of not being ready to make enough compromises.

Teachers fought for higher salaries and better working conditions. Repeated strikes have wreaked havoc on Israel’s school system, with parents pushing both sides to reach an agreement.

In addition, the Ministry of Education warned on Sunday that approximately 5,600 teaching positions are still unfilled before the start of the school year, which is scheduled for September 1.

According to figures released by the ministry, the shortage is most acute in Tel Aviv and central Israel, where schools lack nearly 3,500 teachers. Other regions face a shortage of employees in the hundreds.

Primary schools lack 424 English teachers and 250 science teachers, while special schools and nurseries face a deficit of 1,103, the ministry added. Approximately 460 science teacher positions are also unfilled.

The data was published by the newspaper Ha’aretz showed that more teachers left the sector after last year compared to previous years. The number of students studying teaching has also decreased, from 13,500 in the 2020-2021 academic year to 11,400 the following year.

Data published in March by the Central Statistical Office showed a 12% drop in the number of new teachers over the last school year.

On Sunday, subsidized childcare centers in Israel threatened not to reopen their doors next school year, accusing the state of “neglecting preschool education for years.”

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