Israeli Teachers Working for At-risk Youth Program Win Equal Employment Rights

Teachers contracted by the government to help teenaged dropouts have worked under inferior conditions to those in the formal education system since the program was created in the 1990s.

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Teachers for a government program for at-risk youth signed a collective agreement Monday, guaranteeing their future employment and radically improving their working conditions.

The association of HILA teachers and instructors, who are united under the Koach La Ovdim – Democratic Workers’ Organization, signed the agreement with the Atid network, which operates the program as a contractor for the Ministry of Education.

The HILA program, which the Education Ministry has run since the 1990s, provides education for teenagers who have dropped out of the education system. For the past two decades, teachers in the HILA program worked under inferior conditions to those in the formal education system.

This is the first collective agreement regarding employment conditions for contracted teachers, and gives them full employment rights.

Under the agreement some 1,500 teachers, responsible for educating some 8,000 teenagers across Israel, will have job security for the first time. They will no longer be fired and then reemployed every year. Rather, their employment is now guaranteed for the terms of their three-year contracts with the Atid network, and can be extended by another year after six months. The teachers’ wages will also rise by 30 percent and their advanced-study funds will be expanded.

Despite these changes, the agreement does not make the teachers direct employees of the Education Ministry, meaning their job security depends on the agreement, which could change.

Miki Fischer, a founder of the HILA teachers’ association, said this is a “historic achievement for teachers who have been exploited for two decades. From now on the teachers will no longer be concerned by whether they will still have a job the following year.”

For decades, teachers not directly employed by the government have been fired and rehired every year.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

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