Students, Teachers, Lifeguards, Driving Testers All Involved in Labor Tension

Israeli students. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90
Israeli students. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Students in Ashdod, Kiryat Shemona, Emek Yizrael, Herzliya and Givat Shmuel were still on strike Monday, the second day of the “rolling strike” they were executing in protest over cutbacks of school trips, in addition to the ongoing strike by examiners of the Transportation Ministry, who walked off the job nearly two months ago.

Some 350,000 tenth- and eleventh-graders stayed home last Wednesday, the first day of the strike. Afterward, the High School Students’ Union decided to strike four or five school districts each day, in order not to hurt students who were taking matriculation (bagrut) examinations.

Along with students, teachers are also conducting their own work action. Teachers earlier this year decided to cancel all activities outside school – including the Annual Trip for 11th- and 12th-graders, a highlight of high school life – as part of their protests to demand pay raises. In addition to the trip cancellation, teachers have stopped punching time clocks, and have cancelled all meetings with officials of the Education Ministry.

The students are also protesting the ongoing strike by driving test examiners, now in in its eighth week. Some 40,000 driving tests have been delayed as a result of the strike, and it will take many months for the backlog to be cleared up, government officials told a Jerusalem Labor Court at a hearing Sunday. The government demanded that the court issue an injunction requiring the examiners to go back to work for at least 50 days in order to clear up some of the backlog and while a compromise was being worked out – but the court refused to do so, saying it wanted to see the outline of such a compromise first. The examiners say they are protesting a plan by the Transport Ministry to outsource the tests to private driving schools.

Also conducting a labor action beginning Monday, are lifeguards at 143 official beaches in Israel. Lifeguards will quit work at 2 p.m., instead of the usual 7 p.m. According to unions representing the lifeguards, contract matters have not been resolved, despite promises that they would be by the start of the swim season. In a statement, local authorities said that despite progress in negotiations, “the lifeguards and union decided to strike. We apologize for the inconvenience for residents as a result.”

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