The Hadassah Medical Organization and the hospital unions ended their first negotiation session with no result on Thursday night in Tel Aviv.

Hadassah workers demanded payment in full of their January salaries and threatened further strike action to begin on Sunday, according to Histadrut spokesperson Yaniv Levy.

They will continue working on an emergency basis on Friday.

The Hadassah Medical Organization and the hospital unions began on Thursday night their first negotiating session in Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, HMO’s Jerusalem Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus medical centers struggled with labor sanctions that reduced treatment to a minimum.

“It’s quieter in the wards than on Yom Kippur,” said one veteran Hadassah employee. Many patients went to the city’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center instead of Hadassah, knowing they would face crowding.

The 6,000 employees have received only half of their pay for January. The staff, who insist they will not work normally until their entire monthly salaries are deposited in their bank accounts, fear management will pay only around 90 percent.

The Jerusalem District Court’s decision to freeze financial arrangements at HMO allows the organization to reduce salaries and dismiss hundreds in the 90 days it will be in effect.

If the workers do not go back to normal work, HMO management is intent on asking the labor court for backto- work orders.

The first negotiating session, held at the offices of the Histadrut labor federation, included HMO Director-General Avigdor Kaplan, Histadrut official Avi Nissenkorn and Hadassah unions representatives.

Meanwhile, 30,000 employees at Clalit Health Services, the largest health fund in Israel, said on Thursday that they were holding workers’ assemblies at all its 14 hospitals, in solidarity with the Hadassah staffers.

Prosper Ben-Hamu, who represents the health fund’s administrative and maintenance staff, said HMO must pay January salaries to its workers immediately and called on the government to ensure the money is available.

Prof. Rafael Beyar, director-general of Rambam Medical Center, the major state hospital in Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post he did not blame HMO’s staff for its near collapse, but rather the Treasury.

“The Finance Ministry has for years dried up the health system, which needs an infusion of at least NIS 10 billion.

The country must wake up and realize this. Rambam is one of the most efficient medical centers in the country, but it nevertheless suffers from a severe shortage of manpower slots and crowding. The only solution is proper budgeting. The Israeli health system is well known to be very efficient compared to those in Europe and the US,” said Beyar, a veteran interventional cardiologist.

His hospital has a balanced budget, but “patients suffer from crowding , and there are not enough doctors and nurses,” said Beyar, who accused the media of making “unbalanced and uncontrolled criticism of Hadassah, using slogans and repeating half truths.”

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