Israel: Union takes strike action to demand better working conditions to avoid losing more teachers

published 17 June 2022 updated 21 June 2022

The Israel Teachers’ Union (ITU) has been engaging recently in rolling strikes across the country to demand decent working conditions and a fair wage agreement reflecting the importance, significance, and complexity of working as an educator in these challenging times.

Credit: Yoni Rife

Teachers are facing increasing pressure and workloads and thousands have left the profession to seek better pay.

The government must ensure a well-functioning education system

“I invite [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid to come down from their ivory tower. They must take responsibility and come to the next negotiations to see with their own eyes that the Finance Ministry representatives are not coming with concrete proposals and are simply gaining time, while the education system is collapsing and thousands of school and preschool teachers are forced to leave their workplaces to find other sources of income,” ITU Secretary-General Yaffa Ben David stated.

Credit: Yoni Rife

She went on to call on Lapid and Bennett to “show leadership, speak up, and show that they care about education employees, students, and parents”. On 15 June, educators participated in a two-hour teacher strike in Israeli schools.

Union proposals for a new and fair wage agreement

Ben David also reminded that the teachers' previous wage agreement has expired, and her union has started a collective bargaining process to come up with a new fair and just agreement that will:

  • Stop the exploitation of teaching staff; and
  • Provide an appropriate response to the teachers’ growing shortage.

ITU has been warning the Israeli government for many months now that, without proper remuneration, high-quality and professional teachers will leave the education system, she insisted.

On the need for a new and fair wage agreement, Ben David highlighted that the education system is the backbone on which Israeli society is built, and teaching staff are at the social forefront of the educational work, which they do with dedication, professionalism and with maximum investment towards each and every Israeli student.

Credit: Yoni Rife

Israeli government must invest in quality educators and education

Education International stands in solidarity with its affiliate ITU and Israeli educators and reiterates that quality education is the right of every child and can only be implemented with a adequately funded school systems which respects and empowers teachers.

The action of Israeli teachers reflects the struggle of many education unions around the world who are organising and fighting for better teaching and learning conditions in the post-COVID reality.

Israel’s public authorities must engage in social dialogue and listen to education professionals and their representative bodies.