Elementary school teachers in Kfar Sava are refusing to punch a time clock before and after work - complaining of their workload outside class and saying they shouldn't be treated like factory workers or bank employees.
In recent weeks the Education Ministry has been installing time clocks in Kfar Sava elementary schools as part of the New Horizon agreement that increases teachers' salaries. But the reform also puts more emphasis on one-on-one work with students, and teachers say they still have to work at home.
More than 6,000 teachers from around the country have signed a petition demanding that Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and teachers union chief Yossi Wasserman get rid of the time clocks.
"It's not really that something terrible will happen if we punch the clock, but this education reform is already problematic, and this is a red line. This is a statement of principle that we're not willing to surrender," says one teacher.
"We were threatened and warned that this struggle would harm us, that we were violating the agreement and that they'd dock our pay. They won't even allow us to hold a meeting at the union's branch. Yes, the Histadrut [labor federation], the body that's meant to represent us, has left us out in the cold."
The teacher says the installation of the time clocks "was not mentioned to us when they introduced the reform, and apparently they knew why." At time clocks in Kfar Sava schools, teachers have put up signs reading "chutzpah."
In a letter to Wasserman, the teachers wrote that "this demand reflects a basic lack of understanding of the meaning of teaching, which is a mission and is not limited to time or place. A teacher is not a factory worker, a bank employee or a clerk at the Education Ministry. The work of a teacher does not end when the bell rings, and it goes far beyond the confines of the school."
According to another teacher, "I feel raped, and I don't use this severe expression lightly. They're simply violating my dignity and that of my profession."
"The idea was for us to have the time to do everything in school, which of course is not happening - there's no time, the conditions are poor. They promised us a work space with a computer - and we're 40 teachers in one room with two working computers. Everyone is very bitter, and the union says not to take work home. But ... we have an obligation to the children."
The Education Ministry says the time clocks are part of the New Horizon agreement, while the teachers' union says the clocks are there to safeguard teachers' right to work fewer hours.
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