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Upward mobility built in by deal

Israel's 130,000 teachers are finally on the road to upward mobility, thanks to a deal signed by their unions, and underwritten by the ministry of education, to give each one of them a portable phone.

The mobile phones, which the unions have promised will be switched off during class time, will be available from January.

Each year, as part of the teachers' pay deal, the ministry of education contributes funds towards a gift. Last year, the 100,000 members of the Histadrut Teachers' Union received a voucher for the Mashbir department store. This year the union used the size of its membership to negotiate a cut-price deal, worth about Pounds 50 per phone, with Celcom and Pelephone.

Teachers will be able to chose between these companies, both of them engaged in a high-profile price war and running newspaper advertisements in a bid to woo teachers. Those who already have mobile phones (used by one in five Israelis) will spend their vouchers at the Mashbir store.

The 30,000 members of the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Israel will meanwhile be able to choose between two kinds of mobile phone supplied by Pelephone.

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