Nurses protest at Haifa University 370.
(photo credit: Hadar Zevulun)
After 17 days of sanctions that sharply curbed health services in public
hospitals and the community, the Israel Nurses Association and Treasury wage
division head Kobi Amsalem signed a new wage agreement late Thursday
Both the union and the government seemed satisfied with the
accord, which replaces the nurses’ contract that expires at the end of December.
The new accord gives 28,000 nurses in the public system average wage hikes of 14
percent – an increase ranging from NIS 1,100 to NIS 1,600 – to their basic
The agreement will be in effect for four-and-a-half
In addition, 1% of government funds for the accord will be
differential (rather than uniform) payments to some nurses to “solve problems in
This is understood to mean that younger nurses, those in
the periphery and those in undermanned specialties will earn more.
nurses will also be entitled to receive additional wage increases that will be
granted in the future to public employees of all kinds.
supervised by National Labor Court President Nili Arad, had its ups and down,
with union head Ilana Cohen saying as late as Wednesday afternoon that the
nurses were ready to strike even beyond the day of Knesset elections on January
22. But the Treasury and Health Ministry officials also exaggerated, saying from
early on that it would be “impossible” for this government to sign an agreement
before the election, when the budget was “frozen.”
The 14% increase,
which was announced by the nurses but not the Treasury, will be paid in a few
increments over the life of the contract, but most of money will be added to
salaries before the end of the first year.
Cohen said she was “happy for
the people of Israel. The agreement that was signed recognizes the distress in
the nursing profession and provides a solution to increasing manpower. It
will make nurses attractive enough to make nursing more
Amsalem said he was pleased with the agreement, as it will
“encourage entry into the nursing profession and bring a significant period of
labor peace and stability” to the health system.
The accord, said
Amsalem, will be especially beneficial for those with low wages and encourage
The rate of nurses compared to the population is one of the
smallest among OECD member countries.
The Treasury’s deputy budget
director, Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, said the agreement “properly balances the need to
encourage more people to enter the profession and existing nurses to work
overtime, with the future challenges to the state budget in the near
The cancellation of tens of thousands of elective medical
procedures in hospitals and community facilities caused millions of shekels of
damage to the health system; some patients went to private hospitals and clinics
to get treatment instead of waiting. It could take many weeks and even months
for the public health system to eliminate the queues caused by the
The vaccination of babies and toddlers against childhood
diseases by nurses in well-baby (tipat halav) stations is among the most urgent
tasks, along with vaccinations and health checks of elementary school children
by the School Health Service, which was privatized by the Treasury and Health
Ministry several years ago and regarded by public health experts as highly
inferior to the previous services.
Commenting on the agreement, Meretz MK
Ilan Gilon said Thursday that it could have been achieved without “wasted time
and low-level mudslinging produced by public relations advisers of the Finance
Ministry and [Deputy] Health Minister [Ya’acov Litzman] “It was achievable 17
days ago,” he insisted at an elections panel at a high school in Rishon Lezion.
“It was a struggle not only of the nurses but of most of the public, who do not
receive major financial benefits and can easily be dismissed, carrying the whole
burden by themselves.”