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Lecturers reject the Ministry of Finance’s proposal to finish the strikes

The teachers’ union on Monday rejected the Finance Ministry’s proposal to end the teachers’ strikes that have been going on intermittently for several months, saying the Finance Ministry was manipulating the numbers.

The offer marks the end of a month-long freeze on negotiations after the union rejected an offer made by the ministry in June.

But the union said Monday that the newly introduced proposal was “even worse than the current situation,” adding 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 calls for a salary for young teachers of NIS 9,000 in the first year, a 30 percent increase from what they currently receive.

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

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

Under the proposed reform, the starting salary of school principals would be increased to 18,000 NIS, and they would receive an additional 2,000 NIS per month if they worked in other positions, such as teachers.

In return, teachers will see their working hours increase to increase the minimum number of working hours for a teacher, for a full-time position, from 50% to 70%.

There will also be a five-day reduction in holidays for students and teachers in a bid 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 hurt teachers as they try to manipulate the numbers. With such behavior, they continue to deepen the crisis in the Israeli education system and call into question the timely return to school,” added the teachers’ union.

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

After talks broke down last month, the department said it would require the union to offer improvements before any pay deal.

“If we propose 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 teachers’ union leader Yaffa Ben-David of not being open enough to compromise.

Teachers fought for higher wages and better working conditions. The repeated strikes have wreaked havoc on Israel’s education system, with parents pressing both sides to reach an agreement.

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

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

Primary schools are short 424 English teachers and 250 science teachers, while special schools and kindergartens face a shortage of 1,103, the ministry added. There are also about 460 vacancies for science teachers.

Data is revealed by the daily newspaper Haaretz showed that more teachers left the sector after last year than in previous years. The number of students pursuing teacher training also fell from 13,500 in the 2020-2021 academic year to 11,400 next year.

Figures released in March by the Central Statistics Office showed a 12% drop in new teachers over the past school year.

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

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