IMA not impressed by Treasury claims of PM intervention

Doctors’ demonstration planned at the Knesset.

April 27, 2011 04:31
2 minute read.
Illustrative photo

doctors operation generic 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

After a two-week respite from sanctions by the Israel Medical Association, which is demanding a new wage agreement for some 20,000 doctors in the public sector, a major demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday in Jerusalem just outside the Knesset.

Inside, the plenum will hold a special session for, among other things, discussing the doctors’ crisis, even though parliament is still officially on vacation.

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The IMA, chaired by Dr. Leonid Eidelman, said Tuesday that it was not impressed by the public “intervention” – his first so far – by Prime Minister and Health Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since the IMA launched sanctions a few weeks ago.

But even though it was described to the media as “Netanyahu’s intervention,” there was no mention on it on the Prime Minister’s Office website, and the statement was reportedly from the Finance Ministry, which is conducting talks with the IMA.

However, Health Ministry officials were told that the prime minister was in fact not intervening at all and was waiting to see how negotiations develop.

According to the Treasury announcement, Netanyahu “backed up” the Treasury’s demands that an integral part of a settlement involving wage increases would be the requirement that all doctors punch a time clock when starting and ending their time on the job.

The IMA has strongly opposed this demand, arguing that doctors are not clerks and that they do medical work for their employers outside their clinics and hospitals as well.

Netanyahu also supposedly voiced his backing for putting an emphasis on wage increases for doctors who work in the periphery, where there is a shortage of medical specialists.

Ministry wage officials did not take advantage of the suspension of sanctions during the holiday to hold talks on the intermediate days of Pessah, as they are officially on vacation. The IMA said its senior officials were working during the intermediate days of the festival and would have been glad to meet but had not been invited.

Netanyahu was said to have meet with Treasury officials about the doctors on Tuesday, received a briefing on details, and reportedly does not endorse the demands of the IMA.

Two meetings between the IMA and Treasury officials were set for Tuesday night and Wednesday, but no breakthrough was expected, the doctors said.

The IMA added on Tuesday that “no progress has been made so far, and that nothing has been added that can move the wheels of negotiations and find solutions to saving the collapsing public health system.”

Meanwhile, the Israel Medical Student Association, based at Tel Aviv University, said they will participate in the big demonstration in the Rose Garden across from the Knesset on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

The IMA said it expects over 1,000 doctors to demonstrate against the Treasury during the Knesset special session, while the students’ association said it would bring 1,000 more of their own to the protest.

Two weeks ago, medical students ran four kilometers of the Tel Aviv Marathon as a show of support for the IMA’s struggle.

The students said they will boycott medical school classes during the demonstration in Jerusalem.

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