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Teachers in Israel resume strike demanding pay rise

Palestinian students at a school in the West Bank, 23 January 2022 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Students at a school in the West Bank, 23 January 2022 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli Teachers' Union today resumed its strike demanding pay rises for its members, local media reported.

The full-day strike, a statement issued by the Teachers' Union said, covers kindergartens, elementary and middle schools.

In the statement, the Teachers' Union accused the Finance Ministry of "taking advantage" of the union's "good intentions" when it had agreed to suspend its strike.

The Finance Ministry, the statement said, has refused to offer more than 8,600 shekels ($2,513) as a starting wage for new teachers and only agreed on a small monthly raise for experienced teachers.

According to the Israeli media, the union is demanding that new teachers earn a monthly salary of 10,500 shekels ($3,077), as well as a meaningful increase in the salaries of experienced teachers.

The Finance Ministry previously agreed to raise wages to about 8,200 shekels ($2,403).

Union chief Yaffa Ben-David said on Sunday that the ministry had "made a concrete offer [for increasing teachers' salaries]," but noted that there were still "significant" gaps between the union and the ministry, the Times of Israel reported.

The progress lead the union to halt the strike action, however, "the treasury has taken advantage of our good intentions to stop the strike and has held futile meetings," Ben-David said. "The offers they proposed are disrespectful to the teaching profession and will lead to the collapse of the education system."

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She added: "We have been negotiating with treasury officials for over six months and the only offer they have put on the table is simply ridiculous. The officials don't care about anything. Not about education, not about the students, and not about their parents."

Walla reported an unnamed official from the Finance Ministry saying: "If we offer higher salaries without receiving changes that benefit the system, it may set a precedent for other industries the ministry needs to sign wage agreements with."

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