In the video: In the shadow of the discussions at the President's House: Hundreds of demonstrators against Rotman at Tel Aviv University (documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Law)
The strike by senior academic staff at universities goes almost under the radar. Meanwhile, the sanctions have been going on for nearly two weeks, students are missing material, and end-of-semester exams are imminent. According to estimates by sources familiar with the details, if a solution is not reached soon, the exams will have to change. The main options: rejection, removal of material or cancellation and replacement with work for submission.
Uncertainty is raising the bar of pressure on campuses. The school year will end towards the end of this month, and instead of preparing for intensive learning, students are trying to gather information about the future of the strike and the fate of the tests. Every evening or two, they wait for an update on their studies the next day, and until then they remain in a fog. "The mess is crazy. I wake up in the morning and don't know what classes are taking place, if I have to do the work or if it was postponed," says Aviv Horowitz, a geography and communication student at the Hebrew University.
She stresses that it is precisely the partiality of the strike that makes it difficult to conduct routine. The group negotiating a new salary agreement is the senior academic staff, while the junior faculty continues to teach. This creates a situation in which one course continues as usual, another course remains in practice only, and another course is completely frozen. "It's hard to keep track of what's happening in each course. Sometimes I come to campus for one practice or lesson a day," Horowitz says.
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"It's hard to keep track of what's going on in every course." The Hebrew University (Photo: ShutterStock)
The inevitable result of continued sanctions will be changes in the format of the tests. "If this doesn't stop in the coming weeks, the tests will be postponed or cancelled and replaced with jobs," a source familiar with the details said. "There won't be an exam without a lecturer, certainly half of the material isn't taught in class. Many faculty members would prefer an alternative assessment." He said delaying would be complicated because it would require canceling plans for freedom. "Faculty and students have already bought plane tickets, they won't cancel them. The lecturers and students are in the same boat of uncertainty."
"It's not clear how they'll give us grades at the end of the semester. There are courses in which we have already missed five classes," Horowitz adds. "You can't test us in them on all the material. I believe that the lecturers' struggle is justified and the salaries should be higher. But we are stuck between them and the student union, which sets them unreasonable conditions. And the university doesn't say anything, only that they update later."
"It's not clear how they'll give us grades at the end of the semester." Tel Aviv University (Photo: Erez Michaeli)
The student union at the Hebrew University has already raised its demands with the rector. Among other things, they demanded that material not learned in class not be put to the test; Not all missing classes will be completed to avoid congestion; If completion classes are decided, they will be recorded and will be without compulsory attendance, and will take place during the semester period and will not be extended to an exam period; Students will not be required to complete material completely; The period of the examinations shall not be postponed and the dates of the tests shall not be changed. The National Union of Students is also expected to clarify its position later.
Chair of the Coordinating Council of Senior Academic Staff at Universities, Anat Zeira, told Walla! "As of now, the strike continues. A long negotiating meeting was scheduled for tomorrow. If you go as you should, there is an option to end the strike after it. But it's not just up to us, we're already making maximum concessions." According to her, "If there are no agreements, the strike will be prolonged, and the longer it is, the more difficult it will be to complete the material. Then they will have to postpone the date of the tests, give a passing grade to everyone or find another solution."
The salary agreement for senior academic staff ended at the end of 2019. Since then, they have been trying to open negotiations on a new agreement, and only at the beginning of last year did talks begin with the Ministry of Finance, the Committee of University Heads (VERA) and the Planning and Budget Committee (PBC). The main demand of the faculty members is to update wages in accordance with changes in the economy. According to his calculation, wages have eroded by 11% in recent years.
Prefer to avoid putting your hands in the mud. Kish (Photo: official website, Ministry of Education Spokesperson's Office)
Zeira clarified: "The Coordinating Council has come a very long way towards the other side, both economically and substantively, but the gaps between us are still large. We will not agree to additional new demands as a condition for wage amendment. These include, among other things, financial damage to staff whose achievements management will not be satisfied with, or damage to other salary components stipulated in agreements decades ago."
Education Minister Yoav Kisch has so far not commented on the sanctions. Although the ministry is not the employer of the lecturers, unlike the teachers, it seems that on this issue, like other salary talks, Kish prefers to avoid putting his hands in the mud. Instead, it engages in exchanges of letters and clashes with universities. In a letter sent to Kish yesterday by the University Heads Committee, after a reprimand from him, they accused the choice of not being accidental. "It is hard to shake the feeling that you and some of your partners see academia as an ideological enemy that must be subdued or dried up," they wrote. "Is it just a coincidence that even though there has been a strike by senior university staff for over a week, your voice is not heard?"
Regarding the tests, the University Heads Committee said that "Vera is actively participating in negotiations with the Coordinating Council of Senior Staff in order to reach an end to the strike as quickly as possible. In any case, the universities will work to supplement the material that the students missed. This is how the universities have operated in the past, and this will be done when the strike ends."
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