Thousands of daycare center workers held a protest march in Tel Aviv on Sunday, October 3, on the first day of an open-ended strike over wages and work conditions by staff of state-supervised pre-kindergartens. Protesters gathered in the city’s Rabin Square and then marched into surrounding streets, blocking traffic, to the square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum where a rally was held. They protestors carried banners demanding an increase in wages in response to their labor action, which is keeping some 120,000 babies and toddlers at home.
“The government is forcing us to start sanctions and strike because of its refusal to hold negotiations with us,” the daycare center workers said in a joint statement. Workers in pre-kindergartens operated by WIZO, Na’amat and Emunah are participating in the strike. They have been joined by the Yanbu nonprofit organization, which operates daycare centers in the Arab community.
A month ago, the government-supervised daycare centers warned the state of their intention to strike over severe staffing shortages and low salaries unless solutions were found to these problems. Last week limited actions were introduced with the reduction of work hours and the opening of the centers only at 10 am. An OECD report last week showed that Israel spends about 0.2% of its gross national product on education for children aged 0-3, about half of the OECD average.
Medical Interns Burn Scrubs
On Monday night, October 4, some 500 medical interns burned scrubs in front of Meretz chairman and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz’s home in Tel Aviv to protest their excessively long work shifts, involving working 26 consecutive hours.