Teachers Reject Deal to End Strike but Cite Progress

High schools will remain closed today after the leaders of the Secondary Schools Teachers' Association (SSTA) rejected a compromise the state had offered them in an attempt to end the month-long strike.

But SSTA head Ran Erez described the offer, which the government made Friday during deliberations at the National Labor Court, as progress toward resolving the dispute.

"This is the first time the state has acknowledged the need to reduce the number of students per class. But we cannot settle for declarations, and the road to action is still long," Erez said. The negotiators are scheduled to meet this afternoon for further discussions.

Erez added that the teachers "will not resume teaching before the state comes up with a signed agreement that addresses all our demands including reducing the number of students per class, adding mixed school hours to the curriculum and launching a reform program for the secondary school system."

The state's representatives met last night at the labor court with Erez's negotiating team to discuss the offer made by the government to temporarily end the teachers' strike for two weeks to enter into further negotiations. Today will be the action's 28th day.

The latest offer, as it was presented to the court, includes a budget hike of NIS 100 million for extra class hours, a multiyear 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 banning the teacher's strike if the teachers agreed to put the action on hold for two weeks.

Erez said before the meeting that the teachers will not stop their fight until an actual agreement is reached. The Ministry of Education said it regrets the SSTA decision to reject the compromise offer.