Hundreds of kindergartens remain closed after many assistants reported illness in recent days.
The Histadrut first threatened a strike that would paralyze the kindergartens and harm studies in the schools, but now they are reporting progress with the Ministry of Finance.
In the last few days, many assistants started a pirate strike, and did not come to work by taking sick days.
These are workers in kindergartens, special education and schools, who serve as integration and medical assistants.
Yesterday, urban kindergartens (ages 3-6) did not open in a number of cities, including Rehovot, Beer Sheva and Holon.
The auxiliaries led a similar move last Thursday and paralyzed hundreds of gardens in Ramat Hasharon, Rosh Ha'Ain and other cities.
The auxiliaries unite through WhatsApp groups, where they call for sanctions to improve their wages so that their voices are heard and in order to expand the struggle to other cities.
Tomorrow the auxiliaries are planning a demonstration at 18:00 in front of the Histadrut offices in Tel Aviv.
The wages froze, the helpers' protest (archive), photo: Yehoshua Yosef
"Our protest is completely justified," says Ayala Ben Aharon, who has been working as an assistant in a kindergarten for almost a decade.
"We work for starvation wages. I come to work at 7:30 in the morning every day, and the pay is shocking. Last month I received NIS 5,300, which is nothing. It's not enough when everything around is getting more expensive - food, electricity, gas, and of course the rising mortgage. We really like The children and the parents, but the work is hard and abrasive."
According to her, she and her assistant friends feel deprived.
"Every time they made struggles, it was for a different sector, like the doctors and teachers. They forgot the assistants who hold the education system. We give one hundred percent - and receive less. I hope the protest will be successful. I am optimistic, there is an awakening in the field. The assistants decided to pick up the gloves and take care of themselves , for their children's food."
Both the municipalities that employ the assistants, and the Histadrut Ma'of, which brings them together, tried to prevent the pirate strikes. The chairman of the Histadrut Ma'of, Gil Bar-Tal, wrote to the assistants that "a message is being circulated online calling on the assistants to be absent from work and to produce a 'sickness certificate.'
It is important for me to emphasize that the Histadrut does not stand behind this initiative and is not of its opinion.
"Intensive negotiations regarding the reform of the helpers' wages have been taking place for months." Furthermore, the Histadrut claim that the course of events is causing damage to the negotiations.
The assistants started a protest due to their low wages (archive) // Photo: Irit Treves
The particularly low wages of the helpers and their terms of employment have been known for years.
Unlike the salary of the teaching staff, their salary has not increased, and many of them earn close to the minimum wage and are not employed 100 percent of the time, even if they want to.
As a result, there is a shortage of assistants in the entire education system - from kindergartens, through special education classes to medical assistants, even though this is an auxiliary force that the education system cannot exist without.
In fact, the lack of assistants means that kindergartens are sometimes not opened.
"We work hard for a meager salary, and we want to get clear answers and to be properly rewarded," demands Karin Shamchi, a medical assistant at a kindergarten in Netanya.
"We are going to war, and we will make sure that the kindergartens are closed and so are the schools - personal and medical assistants will not reach special education institutions. We are going to fight for our wages, our conditions and our dignity - we are not prepared to be transparent. We work like everyone else and must earn accordingly".
In the meantime, the ones who pay the price of the strike and the closed kindergartens are the parents.
"My daughter's kindergarten has been closed since Friday, and it was also closed today," says Tal, mother of a girl in a municipal kindergarten in Rehovot.
According to her, many dozens of kindergartens in the streets have not opened: "The assistants went on an Italian strike, this is not an acceptable way. The harm is only to the parents and children, because when it is not organized and arranged, no one will listen to the complaints. Everyone in the country decides that they take the law into their own hands , it's just terrible."
Any news soon?
Last week, the Histadrut Ma'of, which represents the auxiliaries, said that if there is no breakthrough in negotiations with the Ministry of Finance to improve working conditions and wages, Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David will declare a labor dispute and organizational measures will be taken.
Yesterday the tone was more conciliatory due to what appears to be progress between the Histadrut and the Treasury - but the threat of the strike has not yet been completely removed from the chapter.
Will he declare a labor dispute?
Chairman of the Histadrut, Arnon Bar-David (archive), photo: Spokesperson's Department of the Histadrut
Gil Bar-Tal, chairman of the Histadrut Ma'of explained: "The negotiations on the issue of assistants have been going on for many months. These days it seems that a breakthrough is emerging. The Histadrut of the Ma'of is interested in reaching a comprehensive reform in the wages of the assistants and their working conditions and has presented detailed demands."
According to Bar-Tal, "the center of the local government shows a willingness to get along well with the assistants and to move forward in negotiations. Following the contacts of the chairman of the Histadrut with the Treasury, it appears that there will be a breakthrough towards reform.
If we don't succeed, there will be a struggle and organizational measures."
The Ministry of Finance contacted the office of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, but there was no response to the article.
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