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Court mulls issuing restraining orders on nurses
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
11/12/2012
TA court discuss state request to issue restraining orders against 28,000 nurses for implementing sanctions in public hospitals.
 
The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court convened on Tuesday night to hear the government’s request for restraining orders against 28,000 nurses who have been applying sanctions in the public hospitals for the last nine years, causing serious disruption in hospitals, community health fund clinics and government facilities.

Realizing that their sanctions did not "hurt the government enough" but still reluctant to cause damage to their patients, nurses across the country walked off their jobs in hospital departments where lives would not be at risk from 9 a.m. and returned at 1 p.m. Restricted numbers of nurses remained staffed in intensive care and for giving out medications.

The Finance and Health Ministries and Clalit Health Services decided to ask for the restraining orders after they realized that negotiations had reached a dead end. Both the Treasury and the Israel Nurses Association accused the other of foot dragging and "lack of serious" in talks to reach a new wage agreement,which expires at the end of December. The Treasury issued salary slips showing that nurses earn "very good salaries" (usually hospital nurses who work frequent weekend and holiday shifts), while the nurses’ union presented the wage slips of other nurses who earn so little they are entitled to income supplements (mostly nurses working in community clinics who work conventional hours).

As damage to the health system’s normal routines accumulated, the School Health Service developed a major backlog in scheduled vaccinations of pupils, and tipat halav (well-baby) stations continue to fall behind in vaccinating, measuring and testing babies and toddlers.

Thousands of elective (not emergency) operations and treatments have been postponed, creating a queue that will take months to eliminate. Despite the disagreement, both sides agree that there is a severe shortage of nurses in the country. Despite their suffering, patients generally voiced their support for the nurses in their struggle.

Meretz MK Ilan Gillon launched on Tuesday a campaign for handing out white rubber bracelets to arouse public support for the nurses’ demands. Hadash MK Dov Khenin charged that it "wasn’t the nurses who abandoned their patients on Tuesday morning but the government. Although Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini called on Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu to get involved immediately in the labor unrest, he has not done so. Gillon called on Netanyahu to visit the hospitals himself to see the patients’ and nurses’ problems.
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