‘Stop destroying the education system’: teachers to strike next week over salaries

The Israel Teachers Union, one of the two main trade unions representing teachers in the country, announced on Tuesday that it would stage a half-day strike next week to protest over salaries.

The strike, scheduled for May 30, will begin at 1 p.m. to allow teachers to travel to a protest in Tel Aviv that evening.

Most schools and kindergartens end before 2 p.m. anyway, with younger pupils then following the afternoon programmes.

The union said the strike will affect all educational institutions, including kindergartens and special schools.

However, the Israel Secondary Teachers Association and its teachers are not expected to participate in the protest, though they are embroiled in a separate dispute over planned enrollment reforms.

In a letter to teachers, the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union, Yaffa Ben-David, warned that the gradual erosion of teachers’ salaries has put the entire education system in danger of collapse.

Israel Teachers Union general secretary Yaffa Ben-David attends an Israel Television News Company conference in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Many educators have already left the system and many more intend to do so by the end of this year,” Ben-David wrote. “Join us to make our voices heard: stop destroying the education system! Stop hurting teachers!

“The severe shortage of teachers will eventually lead to disruption in the functioning of the education system and will come mainly at the expense of pupils, who will suffer from a rapid turnover of teachers and principals – until classes have to be interrupted. for whole years,” Ben-David said, accusing the finance ministry of withholding funding and warning of “shocking” and “serious” implications if the situation is left unchecked.

Ben-David has become known for her determined fight to improve pay and benefits for Israeli teachers.

Israeli teachers demonstrate outside the Ministry of Education in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2016, as they demand better wages and working conditions. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While some criticized Ben-David for her hardline approach, others hailed her as an activist rightly defending the rights of the workers she represents.

According to a recent study conducted by Bar-Ilan University, teachers in Israel receive on average a third of the salary of teachers in Germany. The study noted that Israel was at the bottom of the scale compared to other OECD countries.

The study also found that the dramatic pay gap affects not only young teachers at the start of their careers, but also veteran educators who have been in the system for 15 years and still earn significantly less money than their colleagues. other countries.

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