“In Jerusalem, we’ve changed the term ‘teacher’s aides’ to ‘learning facilitators.’ The idea is that learning facilitators are more educated, more qualified. But despite this change, the system hasn’t changed its attitude. This summer it’s especially evident,” Kochava Khalifa (61), coordinator of teachers’ aides in Jerusalem, told Davar.
Khalifa described the ongoing struggle for fair working conditions for teachers’ aides during the summer session of schools and kindergartens as a fight for the fundamentals.
The teachers’ aides announced a labor dispute with municipalities about a week ago. The dispute concerns the employment of the teachers’ aides for the optional kindergarten summer session, which is set to begin on July 1 and last for three weeks. The Histadrut and the teachers’ aides argue that the proposed pay structure is unreasonable.
Kindergarten teachers who choose to teach over the summer are expected to receive an hourly wage of 75 shekels in addition to the regular salary paid during summer vacation, while the aides will receive only an additional 75 shekels per day .
“Someone has to tell them that while we are expected to work twelve months, nowhere does it say that it is twelve months of working with children. Why do they think that we don’t burn out the way kindergarten teachers do? If, in the summer, we work like kindergarten teachers, we should get paid like kindergarten teachers. 75 shekels per day in addition to the salary, and not 75 shekels per hour like teachers get? It’s humiliating,” Khalifa said.
Gil Bar-Tal, chairman of the Histadrut’s Maof division, which strives to improve working conditions for employees of local governments, threatened a strike in response to the Jerusalem municipality’s unilateral decisions on working conditions during the summer session.
In a letter to the local government center, Bar-Tal wrote: “We won't allow for a situation where the burden of extending the school year falls on the shoulders of the teachers’ aides."
The summer workload for the teachers’ aides is also expected to be heavier than usual. The aides are expected to work without the permanent kindergarten staff, who will be replaced by temporary staff and volunteers. According to the aides, in many of the kindergartens they will actually be serving as the main kindergarten teachers.
A similar struggle took place last December, when Maof advocacy led to an agreement on improving the aides’ employment conditions in the optional school session during Hannukah break. As part of the agreements, the aides received a salary increase of 37 shekels per hour, which amounted to 1,100 shekels for five days of works.
Khalifa commended the involvement of Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David and Maof Chairman Gil Bar-Tal: “They’re supporting us in the struggle.”