Haifa Strike Escalates as Teachers Union Joins In

Workers are demanding to preserve their existing conditions, to grant tenure to temporary workers after five years and to fill vacant positions

File photo: Lockers line a hallway inside a Catholic high school in the United States.
Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Haifa residents are in store for further disruptions as the Teachers Union joins the municipal workers strike on Friday, shutting down the city’s education institutions. The union said city schools will be closed today, due to the absence of sanitation services.

The strike began on Wednesday, following Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem’s decision to dismiss 24 temporary sanitation workers. The municipal workers union said the workers were fired without prior notice and demanded that the city hire 60 additional workers to fill various vacant posts in the roster.

The workers are demanding to preserve their existing conditions, to grant tenure to temporary workers after five years and to fill vacant positions of nursery school assistants, sanitation workers and other unstaffed jobs.

Kalisch-Rotem apologized to Haifa’s residents and wrote in her Twitter account: “This is my responsibility. I promised to reduce city rates, which are the highest in Israel, and this requires stopping the bloating of the municipal roster with jobs. The price: the union is fighting me and you’re paying the price.”

All municipal employees are striking except for special education workers and the Bnei Zion Medical Center. Kindergartens have also closed down, because the kindergarten teachers’ assistants are on strike. The workers’ union has blocked the entrance to City Hall with two garbage trucks since the strike began.

“Let [the mayor] feel what it’s like when the garbage isn’t being collected,” union chairman David Vaknin said earlier this week. “We don’t want to punish all the residents, but those who were fired without warning were in charge of collecting garbage near her home.

“The mayor launched an unbridled attack on the city’s workers, which left us no choice but to act with all our strength to preserve our dignity and home,” he said in a statement.

The Teachers Union said on Thursday it would not allow studies in the city’s education institutions as of Friday.