(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
After Clalit Health Services' management decided on Thursday to freeze its plan to dismiss 1,000 employees after Pessah, some 30,000 workers at its hospitals and community clinics suspended their strike against the country's largest health fund.
This decision was reached by Histadrut secretary-general Ofer Eini, Clalit director-general Eli Depes and union head Prosper Ben-Hami after management was unable to get restraining orders from a labor court against the workers.
Many Clalit patients refrained from making medical visits due to prior knowledge of the impending strike. Those who did go to clinics were treated by Clalit's 6,000 physicians who did not strike due to Israel Medical Association members' non-strike commitment which is in effect until the contract expires in approximately two years.
Explaining its original dismissal plans, Clalit management said it could not afford to keep all workers due to an arbitration agreement which will gradually raise the salaries of all public-sector doctors around the country. This raise was announced late last year and affects Clalit, in state-owned and voluntary organization hospitals and community facilities.
In a statement released by Clalit, the union head insisted that even now, the number of job slots in Clalit facilities are inadequate and that firing 1/36th of the staff would harm the largest health fund's clients and put an additional burden on the remaining employees.
The union did not strike in Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva or the Beit Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital in Ra'anana, where hospital staffers took care of all life-and-death situations.
Clalit management, which seeks efficient measures to cut expenses, called the labor action a "wildcat strike" but said it hoped negotiations with the workers would somehow lead to a resolution of the problem.
The Israel Medical Association, defending the doctors' "right" to a gradual wage increase, said that the arbitration process on doctors' wages took eight long years until it was implementation by the government.
IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar said that the "attempt to erect a barrier between the doctors and other workers will never succeed."