PM to Secondary School Teachers: Stop Strike Immediately

Olmert in Paris: Teachers' strike is unnecessary and unjustified; Teachers' Assoc.: PM's attack shows he knows nothing about our demands.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for an immediate end to the secondary schools' teachers' strike in its twelfth day on Monday. "The strike is patently unjustified and unnecessary," the PM told a a press conference in Paris.

Olmert slammed secretary of the Secondary Schools Teachers' Association Ran Erez, saying the strike the organization initiated is damaging to students and to the status of teachers in Israel.

In response to Olmert's attack, Erez said the PM had proven he knew nothing about the dispute between the association and the Treasury, or about the teachers' demands. "The agreement between the government and the Teachers' Union is detrimental to teachers and saves the government money," said Erez. "The fact that the PM and the finance minister are so intent that the association sign it is a clear sign we must continue to resist doing so," he added.

However, Olmert stressed to reporters that the government has revolutionized education in Israel over the past year. "We reached an agreement with the Teachers' Union, which represents the vast majority of Israel's teachers, for a salary increase of 33%. The Secondary School Teachers' Association was offered the same agreement and a budget of $1.3 billion dollars has been allocated to secondary schools. But the head of the organization, as usual, thinks he can get a better deal."

Asked why he doesn't take an active role in ending the strike, Olmert responded that he is closely involved in education and fully supports Education Minister Yuli Tamir, with whom he met before leaving the country for Europe on Sunday.

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