'Historic' Labor Reform Signed With Secondary School Teachers Association

Instructors to get 50 percent raise for teaching 16 more hours per week.

The Secondary School Teachers Association and the education and finance ministries yesterday signed a document of principles for reform as a prelude to the start of negotiations.

The negotiations are expected to be concluded within two months, with the intent to institute the reforms at the beginning of the coming school year in September 2011.

The secondary school teachers are expected to receive an approximately 50-percent pay rise in exchange for working a 40-hour week instead of the current 24.

According to an agreement signed a few months ago, teachers' pay will go up by 42 percent for working an additional 16 weekly hours. To that will be added another 6 percent, agreed on between the Histadrut labor federation and the Finance Ministry. Teachers will also receive compensation of approximately 3 to 4 percent for wage erosion.

The 16 additional hours will consist of six hours of one-on-one work with students and 10 hours in the school, during which the teacher will be expected to grade tests, meet with parents, etc. Compensation that teachers already receive for different tasks, either monetary or by reduced teaching hours, will not be touched.

According to various officials, the reform will be completely implemented in the coming school year in a few dozen high schools, and partially implemented over a four-year period in the rest of the country's secondary schools.

The reform will also include differential pay for teachers based on their students' achievements and an upgrading of physical conditions in the schools. According to several officials, the funding earmarked for the additional pay is currently approximately NIS 2.5 billion, and another NIS 1.5 billion will be made available as a one-time investment in improving the physical infrastructure at schools.

However, it is unclear how and whether the reform will affect members of the Secondary School Teachers Association who teach at junior high schools, where the New Horizon reform is in place, signed four years ago with the other major teachers' group, the Teachers Union.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said yesterday at a press conference in Jerusalem that after negotiations with the Secondary School Teachers Associations were finished, "we will study together with the Teachers Union the need [to suit the conditions] to the junior high schools."

Calling yesterday "historic," Ran Erez, head of the Secondary School Teachers Association, said, "We are starting on a road that is neither easy nor short, but shared by the education and finance ministries and the association. Now we have to change our thought patterns. It's not easy. Our task is to persuade our members that it is possible."