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The Education Ministry said yesterday that elementary school teachers would be able to revert to their previous work conditions at the end of the school year, if they are unhappy with its plan to offer them increased wages in exchange for increased work hours.

Meanwhile, the Secondary School Teachers Association's (SSTA) strike enters its 14th day today, as the talks between the SSTA and the education and finance ministries are still quagmired.

The Education Ministry statement was intended to allay elementary school teachers' fears of joining the reform, which raises weekly instruction hours to 36, in exchange for an average pay raise of 26 percent.

An Education Ministry source said that some 100 schools out of 300 had joined the reform.

Teachers Federation secretary general Yossi Wasserman demanded a few days ago that the teachers be permitted to maintain their prior work conditions: "We believe in the reform, but we also understand the teachers' fears. I have no doubt that the teachers will want to continue with the reform at the end of the year."

Education Minister Yuli Tamir said, "We don't want any teacher to enter the reform if he or she is not 100-percent happy with it."

Regarding the secondary school teachers, SSTA leader Hanan Erez said there was no point in resuming the talks with the education and finance ministries.