Strike to Close Tel Aviv, Haifa High Schools on Monday

Decision to continue strike is the result of deadlock in talks between teachers' union and treasury.

A rotating strike by the Union of Secondary School Teachers will cancel classes in grades seven to 12 in Tel Aviv and Haifa on Monday.

The strike will not include schools affiliated with the ORT and Amal organizations.

On Sunday, classes were cancelled in Jerusalem-area schools, with the exception of preparatory classes for matriculation examinations.

The decision to continue the strike was the result of an ongoing deadlock in talks between union representatives and treasury officials.

Elementary school teachers offered wage deal Following the negotiations over the wage agreements for elementary school teachers, it appears the teachers could be heading for a 30 percent increase in wages over the next few years, if they agree to education reforms.

The wage agreement crisis reached a crossroads this weekend. Either the deal will be signed in the coming days or the teachers will join the strike already begun by high school teachers.

The finance and education ministries are offering elementary school teachers significant reforms, which would both raise their salaries substantially and add to their work hours. Teachers are being offered a 22 percent raise, to be spread over five years. Teachers had demanded a 50 percent raise at the start of negotiations, but sources close to the talks believe the final figure will be closer to 27 percent. Intervention by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could bring the figure to 30 percent, the sources say.

The condition for raising salaries is teachers' acceptance of educational reforms. They would provide principals with greater administrative authority, including hiring new teachers, firing unsuitable ones, and raising the salaries of outstanding teachers.

The second important change consists of increasing the number of teachers' frontal hours. The teachers union claims teachers now have 24 frontal hours on average per week, while the Finance Ministry claims they teach 25.5 frontal hours on average. In any event, it's agreed that the number of frontal hours will be raised to 26 per week.