Strike Over, Junior Faculty Now Want Their Issues Resolved

Representatives of junior university faculty are scheduled to meet with the Council for Higher Education's planning and budget committee today in a bid to find a long-term solution to the problems involving the employment of external lecturers, hundreds of whom received pink slips last week in the wake of changes to the academic schedule that resulted from the extended strike by senior lecturers.

The parties will examine the possibility of hiring the external lecturers as regular employees, said Dr. Eli Lahar, chairman of the coordinating body for the junior faculty unions.

External lecturers are currently employed for eight months every academic year, receiving no compensation for dismissal. They are not eligible for benefits or a pension.

"The universities decided right now on the layoffs without taking into account that teachers have plans, that they relied on the salaries they were supposed to receive," Lahar said. He said the decision was made in an effort to keep external lecturers ineligible for layoff compensation and seniority accrual.

The estimated 4,500 external lecturers in Israel, said Lahar, constitute about 40 percent of the teaching staff in universities and 80 percent in colleges.

The planning and budgeting committee has determined that changing the employment system for external lecturers would cost NIS 30 million a year, said Ohad Karni, who heads the junior faculty association at Tel Aviv University.