Jerusalem Special-education Teaching Assistants Cancel Planned Strike

Strike was planned as part of Histadrut campaign to secure improved employment conditions for special-education teachers.

Jerusalem's special education institutions will be open on Tuesday after the Jerusalem municipality agreed Monday evening to a 5 percent pay increase for special-education teaching assistants.

The special education teaching assistants had planned to strike as part of the Histadrut Labor Federation's campaign to secure improved employment conditions and higher salaries for special education teaching assistants.

600 special-education teaching assistants had planned to strike. The sanctions would have affected some 3,000 special-education students, most of whom require constant care.

The Histadrut's Jerusalem district chairman, Dan Ben-Shitrit, said Monday that "special-education teaching assistants are required to do work that is different from regular education," but earn only slightly more than minimum wage.

In addition, according to the Histadrut, special-education teaching assistants in Jerusalem earn 30 percent less than their counterparts in Haifa and Tel Aviv. The three cities have signed a collective employment agreement with the Histadrut, in addition to a central employment agreement signed with the Finance Ministry.

The caretakers' salary comprises Finance Ministry funding, as well as a financial supplement paid by local municipalities.

According to different sources, the financial supplement earned by Jerusalem caretakers is significantly less than that of caretakers in Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Six weeks ago, the Histadrut declared a labor dispute, demanding a salary increase for assistant teacher's in the special-education system.

Zion Dahan, who heads the Jerusalem municipality workers' union, said that previous attempts to improve the working conditions of the city's special-education teaching assistants had failed, adding that "the municipality can significantly upgrade the status of special-education teaching assistants, but refuses to do so, clinging to the treasury's policy as an excuse."

The Jerusalem municipality said in response that "despite the municipality's support for increasing the salaries of special-education teaching assistants, the treasury official in charge of salaries did not authorize the move. Simultaneously, the municipality is negotiating with the workers' committee in order in order to avoid the strike in the special education schools."