Strike Hits TA University, Jerusalem High Schools; Haifa Schools Next

Bank of Israel employees continue strike ceased to stock Automated Teller Machines with cash.

A "rolling" teachers' strike cancelled high school and junior high classes in Jerusalem and its environs on Tuesday, and students struck classes at Tel Aviv University and the Ono Academic College.

The secondary school strike, which has hit different areas of the country every day this week, is to cancel classes in Haifa and surrounding areas on Wednesday.

University and college students intend to include all academic and educational colleges nationwide in a 24-hour strike starting on Wednesday. Junior and senior academic organizations are supporting the students' action, which was spurred by threatened rises in tuition fees.

The higher education strike is the result of the Israeli Students Organization and the Tel Aviv University's Student Union's refusal to abide by the agreement signed last month by the National Students' Association and the Israel Students Organization with the Shochat Committee. The agreement did not address such cardinal demands as a reduction in tuition and the restoration of a NIS 1 billion cut from the budget allotted to higher education.

High school classes cancelledThe Secondary Schools Teachers' Association struck all schools in the Jerusalem region Tuesday, cancelling classed for grades 7-12. On Monday, all high schools in the greater Tel Aviv area went on strike. In response, the Finance Ministry announced it was in the final stages of preparing a petition for an injunction for the National Labor Court to stop the strike from continuing.

The director general of the Education Ministry, Shmuel Abuav, noted that the ministry had managed to reach an agreement with the National Teachers Union for the early retirement of 2,600 teachers, and called on the association to follow that example.

"I hope no injunction will be necessary, and that the association teachers will come to their wits," Abuav said. Ran Erez, association chairman, said the injunction would be "futile."

Bank of Israel employees strikeThe financial system was hit by a separate work action Monday and Tuesday, with Bank of Israel employees striking in response to a deadlock in negotiations with state authorities over their general salary agreement.

The workers ceased to stock ATM machines with cash, withheld surpluses from the stock exchange and refrained from investing foreign currency. Despite these multiple instances, data submitted to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor reveals that during 2006, there was a 40 percent decrease in the number of strikes, and a 45 percent drop in the number of work days lost through strikes and workers' sanctions.