The Tel Aviv Labor Court rejected late Tuesday night the government’s request to
issue restraining orders against 28,000 nurses who have been applying sanctions
in public health institutions for the past nine days.
caused serious disruption in hospitals, community health fund clinics and
During the hearing Tuesday evening, Judge Efrat
Laxer called a recess for representatives of the two sides to come to her
office. Before the break, she criticized the Finance Ministry’s
Laxer turned to the Treasury’s wage division legal adviser,
attorney Kobi Amsalem, and told him: “You cannot be ‘half pregnant.’ You are
holding negotiations in spite of the fact Israel is facing
Where is the limit?” Amsalem responded that negotiations were
held with a mind to resolving the issue in the long term, since “hundreds of
millions of shekels are at stake.”
Laxer continued pressing Amsalem to
offer the nurses “some kind of solution,” and not to prevent them from
Amsalem responded, “This is election time, I have my
Laxer said she expected the state to show more flexibility in
Saying 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. on Tuesday and returned at 1 p.m. Restricted numbers of nurses
remained staffed in intensive care and in medication distribution.
nurses continue to work on a limited “Shabbat schedule,” tending only to urgent
The Finance and Health ministries and Clalit Health Services
decided earlier to ask for the restraining orders after they realized that
negotiations had reached a dead end.
The Treasury and the Israel Nurses
Association accused each other of foot-dragging and “lack of seriousness” in
talks to reach a wage agreement to replace the one that expires at the end of
the month. The Treasury issued copies of 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 large backlog in scheduled vaccinations of
pupils, and well-baby (tipat halav) stations continued to fall behind in
vaccinating, measuring and testing babies and toddlers.
elective operations and treatments have been postponed, creating a queue that
will take months to eliminate.
Despite their disagreements, 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
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon launched a campaign on Tuesday to hand out
white rubber bracelets to mobilize public support for the nurses’
Hadash MK Dov Henin charged that it “wasn’t the nurses who
abandoned their patients on Tuesday morning but the government.”
Histadrut labor federation 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.
Gilon called on Netanyahu to visit the
hospitals to see the patients’ and nurses’ problems.
Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.