Thousands of teachers are protesting in Tel Aviv on Monday against the impasse in negotiations with the Finance Ministry over a new wage agreement.
The agreement is slated to cover preschool, elementary school and junior high teachers. As part of the protest, classes in all these schools ended at 1 P.M. on Monday.
According to the Teachers Union, which organized the protest in the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Museum, around 8,000 teachers have arrived so far. The speakers are slated to include Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former lawmakers Shelly Yacimovich, Yeruham Mayor Tal Ohana, Teachers Union Secretary General Yaffa Ben David and several teachers.
“I’m worried by what’s happening here,” said Hagit Katz, a preschool teacher from Haifa with 29 years of experience who attended the protest. “We deserve a raise. We deserve to work with a smaller group of children and for our salaries to match the scope of our work.”
Liora Oster, the union’s representative for the Haifa region, added that she has worked as a math teacher for 34 years “and earns a quarter of what a high-tech guy earns in his first year.”
As part of the new wage agreement, the treasury seeks to reduce the wage gap between new and veteran teachers, which is currently one of the highest in the developed world, by awarding bigger raises to new teachers. The union opposes this, arguing that all teachers should get the same raise.
Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday that the treasury’s other demands include removing the barriers to firing teachers and higher pay for outstanding teachers. The head of the national parents’ association, Miriam Schiff, said on Sunday that school vacations should be changed to match those in the rest of the economy.
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The previous wage agreement expired in 2019, but negotiations on a new one began only this January.