Teachers` Union Rejects Latest Offer by State to End Strike

State offer includes temporary end to strike while sides work out deal; Union expected to reject offer.

Leaders of the Secondary Schools Teachers' Association (SSTA) rejected the state's proposal Saturday to temporarily end the teachers' strike for two weeks and enter into negotiations regarding the government's latest offer.

"We will not end the strike just because of a few declarations," SSTA head Ran Erez said. "We will only go back to teaching with a signed agreement that includes all the issues ? the reduction of students per class, return of classroom hours that were cut and a reform that fits the secondary school system."

The teacher's strike will enter its 28th day on Sunday.

The latest offer given to the teachers, as it was presented to the National Labor Court on Friday, includes a budget hike of NIS 100 million for extra class hours, a multi-year budget plan that will reduce the number of students per class and a salary increase of 26 to 34 percent.

The government also promised it would not seek an injunction barring the teacher's strike if the teachers agreed to put the strike on hold for two weeks.

"The teachers are not fighting for a raise in salary. We want the school hours that were taken away from the children of Israel returned to them. We want thirty kids in a classroom and not forty. My assessment is that an agreement will not be reached this week," Erez said earlier Saturday.

The hearing at the National Labor Court on Friday lasted 4 hours, and lawyers were not present from either side. The state's offer indicated a certain softening of their stance, especially regarding the addition of school hours. On the other hand, the state's offer regarding the reduction in the number of students per class remained vague.