Haifa-area Schools on Strike; North, South Districts Plan Thurs. Strike

Union leadership to discuss Finance Ministry proposal to resume talks on a new wage agreement Wednesday.

The Association of Secondary School Teachers is planning to strike at high schools in the northern and southern districts Thursday, after a strike in Haifa schools on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Jerusalem-area schools were on strike.

However, the union's leadership will also meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss a Finance Ministry proposal that it stop the rolling strikes and resume negotiations on a new wage agreement. Under the deal, the treasury would also cancel its plan to seek restraining orders against the strikes from the National Labor Court.

The union began the rolling strikes to protest what it termed treasury "foot-dragging" in the salary talks. Under the treasury proposal, continuous negotiations would begin this coming Sunday.

Union leader Ran Erez said that "if we indeed obtain a written commitment for substantive negotiations, this would be an achievement. The strikes are not an end in themselves but a means of achieving a situation in which they are talking seriously with us. If we discover after one or two meetings that this isn't the case, we will resume striking."

Wednesday's strike will affect seventh- through twelfth-grade classes in the following communities: Umm al-Fahm, Or Akiva, Baka al-Garbiyeh, Jatt, Binyamina, Jisr al-Zarqa, Daliat al-Carmel, Zichron Yaakov, Hadera, Haifa, Tirat Hacarmel, Kfar Hasidim, Kfar Bialik, Kfar Pines, Kafr Kara, Kfar Galim, Nesher, Ussfiya, Arara (north), Furadis, Pardes Hannah, Kiryat Ata, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Tivon, Kiryat Yam, Kiryat Haim, Kiryat Shmuel, Yagur, Yemin Orde, Meir Shefiya, Ma'agan Michael, Menashe, Ein Shemer and Sde Yaakov.

Meanwhile, college students are planning their own one-day strike Wednesday, which will affect 36 colleges nationwide. On Tuesday, students struck Tel Aviv University and the Kiryat Ono Academic College.

The strikes are to protest the work of the Shochat Committee, which is discussing a reform of the higher education system.

Two weeks ago, the students canceled a planned strike against the Shochat Committee after reaching an agreement with the government under which representatives of the country's two student unions would be added to the subcommittee that is discussing tuition. However, one of the two unions - the Israel Students Organization, which represents most students at the colleges - has since concluded that this agreement was a mistake, and over the last few days, it has resumed protests against the committee. The National Students Union, which represents all university students and plus some students at colleges, will meet tomorrow to decide whether it, too, should resume the struggle