The National Labor Court Tuesday night stopped a planned teacher's strike before it even got off the ground on Wednesday, ruling it unlawful.
The Ministry of Education had filed a petition with the court asking for a restraining order against the Secondary Schools Teachers' Association following its announcement it would strike the next day. The news had come barely 24 hours before the first day of the new school year, leaving parents wondering, as they often have in previous years, whether they would be able to send their children to class the next day.
More than 1.53 million students entered 57,800 classrooms Wednesday, according to the latest ministry statistics – an increase of approximately 30,000 students, and nearly 1,000 classrooms. Educational personnel also increased over the past year, from 128,000 to 131,000.
The union claimed its action came in response to a government decision not to renew various teachers' contracts. However, the ministry denied the charge, insisting negotiations over wage agreements were ongoing and that the next round of talks had already been scheduled for Thursday. “To our distress, the union has rejected all of the generous proposals made in the negotiations thus far,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement to the media.
The ministry added that any strike at the junior high school level “is of suspect legality and shows a lack of good faith, and violates the verdict handed down a year ago by the National Labor Court.” According to the ministry, junior high school teachers already have a salary contract under the Education Ministry's New Horizons plan for revamping Israel's educational system.