Summer Vacation Extended in Israel, As School Teachers Stage a Strike

Some 1.3 million Israeli school children got an extended summer vacation as their teachers went on strike Thursday for an indefinite period.

Only kindergarten and first-grade pupils started school Thursday, while all second to 12th-graders had to stay home. The teachers declared a strike Wednesday night.

The Histadrut teachers union and the Independent Secondary School Teachers Association joined forces to call the work stoppage, to protest the Finance Ministry’s last-minute rejection of teachers’ wage demands, following four months of negotiations.

The teachers have asked for a 7 percent salary hike, on top of the 11 percent increase to be given throughout the public sector over a two-year period.

The teachers said the Finance Ministry had ample time during the last four months to indicate it would not agree to the teachers’ demand for an extra raise.

They say this raise is due them to compensate many years in which they were paid salaries lower than the average income in Israel.

The Education Ministry is backing the teachers’ demands. Education Minister Yitzhak Navon met on Thursday with Finance Minister Moshe Nissim in an effort to find a compromise that would enable all students to return to their classes.

The teachers union agreed to make an exception for kindergarteners and first-graders going to school for the first time, to avoid great disappointment after months of anticipation.

An exception was also made in Kiryat Tivon, where 8-year-old Hanan Zaguri was brutally murdered last week.

The teachers felt that the youngsters should return to school, where their fears could be talked out under the guidance of teachers and psychologists.

Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek demonstratively returned his Histadrut membership card to protest the teachers’ strike and the failure of the Histadrut labor federation to stop it.

There will be no JTA Daily News Bulletin on Monday, Sept. 5, because of the Labor Day postal holiday in the United States.

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