A Striking Habit

31 Oct

I love Israel…but there are some things that just make me crazy.

 Today’s Jerusalem Post reported:

The high school strike entered its 14th day on Thursday, as Secondary School Teachers Organization representatives accused the government of failing to take the strike seriously.

Last Friday, my 10th grade daughter came home with exciting news:  “Next week, we only have school on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.  The teachers will be striking on Monday and Wednesday.”

It seems to me that even the teachers aren’t taking the strike seriously….

But that’s not my real point here.  What bothers me is that this culture still thinks that the ultimate way of getting things done is go on strike. 

 Garbage-men go on strike, indifferent to the health hazards and the general disgusting mess they leave  – after all, they are hoping to make the rest of us miserable!

Ben Gurion Airport employees, in search of their deserved pound of flesh, call, or at the very least threaten to strike from time to time, indifferent to what that makes Israel look like to the rest of the civilized world looking to come vacation and spend their dollars here.

Of course, teachers striking is par for the course around here…usually they just don’t even begin the school year, extending the summer for Israel’s thousands of kids, knowing it will just make us parents miserable.

The things is, the fact that we are miserable makes very little difference.  It’s not like I can call my local congressman and ask that he do something about it….I keep on asking, who do I call?? All I get is blank stares….but, I guess it’s just because the “government isn’t taking the strike seriously.”

It’s the wrong message all around.  Teacher have a calling – to teach – and the lesson they are conveying to the students in this country time and time again is that education is important, but not that important.

 I understand that the teachers are underpaid.  Somethings does need to be done about that.

I understand that the government doesn’t really seem to care. Something needs to be done about that too.

But giving kids more vacation time doesn’t make sense – it is not the long term answer.

You see, striking has become a bad habit in Israel.  And it’s hard to break a habit. It seems to me that going on strike is the civilian form of declaring war upon your enemy. 

In war, try as you might, there are alwyas going to be innocent bystanders that suffer as part of the collateral damge of warfare.  That’s just how it goes. 

In this teacher’s strike, the teachers are declaring was on the givernment, and our kids and their on and off high educations are the collateral damage.  And because this country is so used to warfare and so used to the price that is paid in order to defeat our enemies, perhaps that’s why the government is perfectly happy to ignore the fact that our children are paying for the sins of their parents!

This habit must go!  Strking must become a thing of the past. 

Firstly,because it is just unbecoming of a modern country in the 21st centruy to shut down like this!  It’s wasting time, it’s wasting money, and frankly, the whole thing is becoming quite embarrassing;  however, to break the habit, there has got to be an alternative approach.

Therefore, I suggest that in any situation where until now striking has been the accepted approach to “getting your way,” medication liason committees be put in place to proactively address the inevitable hurdles.

This is what I mean: we need to establish committees that meet regularly, with reps from both “sides,” so as to keep their finger on the pulse of the employees and their neeeds, and working “together,”reps of both parties can headoff the roadblocks before they reach them, rather than allowing things to come down to the wire, leading tthe plaintifs to conlcude “the only thing we can do is strike.”

So, we would have committes with reps from the government with reps from the Post office, the teachers unions, the tranportation authority, the sanitation workers, and whoever else has turned to striking to get their way over the past 10-120 years. 

Just  a thought…..it strikes me that it may be a bit simplistic, but something has got to be done!



2 Responses to “A Striking Habit”

  1. Barry Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:41 pm #

    I think the problems you outlined derive from a society built on “contracts,” wherein each party sees itself separate from the other, and attempts to gain maximal advantage for itself. Perhaps Israel should get back to the notion of a society built on “Covenant,” wherein each party sees itself as part of an interdependent living organism, seeking a balance to achieve maximal advantage for the whole. Then, the idea of any one vital segment of society going on strike would be as ludicrous as any organ of a human body deciding to go on strike.

    Hopefully when the teachers go back to work, the concept of Covenant will be taught as part of the core curriculum!

  2. Zusel ben Shlomo Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 6:36 am #

    A striking habit.

    Your recognition of the absurdity of Israel’s continual, if intermittent, strikes does not deal with the reality that the primary purpose of a labor union is to get as much as possible for its members. The union leadership exists to exercise power on behalf of itself and the members. It is important to note that all of the unions you mention are paid by the government. Just as in the United States unions know they cannot “bankrupt” the government, and do not care if they bankrupt the taxpayers.

    Strikes are the way to conduct labor negotiations in socialist countries. Look at the experience in France and Italy.

    The mediation you recommend would require absolute trust by both sides, the authority to insist on compliance with the decision of the mediator, and a commitment to the greater, not personal good.

    You want “Moshiach NOW.”

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