High school - Daniel Bar-On / Jini - Sept. 30, 2010
One in three immigrant teenagers from English speaking countries has difficulties in school Photo by Daniel Bar-On / Jini
Text size

The Secondary School Teachers Union is expected to sign an agreement that would provide its members with a 42 percent pay raise in exchange for an additional 16 hours of work a week, during which time, the teachers would work with small groups of students or do other work in school.

As part of the NIS 4 billion deal, which would be implemented over four years, teachers will receive additional payments that would bring the total wage increase to 50 percent.

The teachers union is due to sign a draft of the agreement with the finance and education ministries shortly, as extensive and often tense negotiations come to a close.

"[Education Minister] Gideon Sa'ar realized that the only way to initiate change in the education system is to sign an agreement with the teachers association," a senior Education Ministry official said yesterday.

The proposed agreement represents the final stage of New Horizon, a program initiated four years ago by the previous education minister, Yuli Tamir, that is already in effect in elementary schools.

"The basic approach of New Horizon applies here too: more wages for more work," the ministry official said.

Unlike the program in effect in elementary schools, high school teachers will not be forced to participate in this one, according to sources involved in the negotiations.

The sources said that more than NIS 1 billion is slated to go into improvements in the school buildings to make it easier for teachers to put in the extra hours.

The two sides have agreed that teachers will not lose benefits they already receive.

The average salary for high school teachers is estimated at NIS 8,000 a month, though the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found the pay to be lower.

The last education report released by the OECD shows that the average salary for Israeli high school teachers with 15 years' seniority comes to NIS 6,706 a month, compared with an international average of more than double that amount: NIS 13,721 ($3,821 ).

It is not clear what will happen in middle schools if the deal with the secondary school teachers is finalized. Since New Horizon went into effect, the Secondary School Teachers Association has opposed efforts by the Education Ministry and the Israel Teachers Union to implement it in middle schools as well.

The negotiations had many ups and downs, including a strike threat as school began.

At the time, Secondary School Teachers Association head Ran Erez accused the government of blocking the agreement.

"Not only does the government crush the teachers and refuse to talk with us about a new collective wage agreement, but the Education Ministry also makes promises that it doesn't keep," he said in August. "Last summer, Minister Gideon Sa'ar promised that schools, in which a majority of the teachers do not want to participate in the program, would not be included in New Horizon, but for the past few months, he's been saying that he can't keep his promises."