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The National Labor Tribunal set a precedent last week by ordering the state to compensate Israel's high-school teachers for violating their collective employment contract. Altogether the compensation reaches about NIS 100 million.

Effectively, the state is returning money deducted from the teachers' salaries for a pension arrangement, plus linkage and interest.

The precedent set is that the state is compensating its workers for loss of income following a pension arrangement. Now that the precedent has been set, other groups of workers could well sue the state for compensation too.

The compensation will be paid to 16,000 teachers belonging to the Organization of High School Teachers, meaning each should get about NIS 7,000.

The claim had been filed in 2004, following the Finance Ministry's announcement canceling the collective-employment agreement signed with the teachers in 1978. The ministry's position was that pension provisions set out in that agreement violated the law in that the amounts deducted from the teachers' salaries were lower than set under law.

The National Labor Tribunal, headed by Judge Steve Adler, accepted the state's position that the deductions had indeed been too low. However, Adler ruled that the teachers were entitled to full compensation of the added deductions - lost income - following adjustment of deductions from their pay to comply with the law. Such adjustment couldn't release the employer from its commitments to the workers, he ruled.