Labor Court Bars High School Teachers From Canceling Field Trips

Marks another blow for striking teachers’ union.

Tomer Appelbaum

The National Labor Court on Thursday barred the Secondary School Teacher’s Association from canceling all annual class trips and other extracurricular activities for their pupils. The announcement followed a court order to the teacher’s union last week to end the secondary school teachers’ strike. Nevertheless, Ran Erez, head of the union, has instructed secondary school teachers employed by the Education Ministry to continue their strike and refuse to accompany students on field trips.

Erez’s announcement was based on the union’s understanding of the court decision, which they believe does not apply to teachers who are not employed by local authorities. Parents in many parts of Israel have complained that teachers are continuing in their refusal to accompany students on field trips.

The Union of Local Authorities (ULA) last week turned to the courts for clarifications regarding the ongoing strike, and the court declared that the teacher’s union must honor the court’s decision in every Israeli school. The court stated, “The organization is expected to use consideration and uphold the wording of the decision in good faith, and beyond this, to apply it to all unionized teachers employed in every secondary school.”

Haim Bibas, ULA chairman and mayor of Modi’in, said, “The head of the teacher’s union cannot disregard the court’s decision since it pertains to all schools. Today we proved that political struggles cannot be waged at the expense of students.”

The Education Ministry, local authorities and the teachers’ union disagree over the issue of teachers’ legal responsibility during annual field trips. The teachers’ union is demanding that its members receive full immunity from prosecution should students get injured during trips, and has canceled all scheduled field trips. In January, after secondary school students went on strike for a day, the teachers’ union reached a compromise with the Education Ministry to resume field trips while negotiating with the ministry about the issue of teachers’ responsibility. About a month later, however, the union declared that the negotiations were not progressing, and resumed the strike.

Last week the National Labor Court ordered an end to the strike following petitions from the ULA, the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa municipalities, and the National Teachers’ Association.