Man lying in a hospital bed at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem [illustrative]..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A 24-hour warning strike by 1,200 x-ray and imaging technicians who handle emergency cases caused havoc in the government and voluntary hospitals and community clinics starting on Thursday morning.
The Histadrut labor federation said the warning strike was a “reaction to foot-dragging” in wage negotiations between the Treasury and other employers on the one hand and the union on the other.
The strike broke out after it was decided a month ago by the two sides to negotiate; the union said it would temporarily freeze all planned sanctions.
But the Histadrut said negotiations were not getting anywhere and decided on the warning strike.
The union of x-ray technicians will meet to decide whether to hold an open-ended strike.
The technicians say they are the lowest earners in the health system, and that many receive income supplements to reach the minimum wage, even though they are college graduates.
They are exposed daily to radiation that “endangers their lives” and work nights, weekends and holidays, they added.
Union head Menachem Ashkenazi said the union had the “full backing of the Histadrut.” Hundreds of thousands of patients need x-rays and scans ever year, he said. “Our struggle is the result of the serious condition of the health system, which is on the edge of collapse,” he said.
In addition to x-ray machines, the technicians operate angio units, CT, PET, MRI, ultrasound and catheterization scanning machines.
Sheba Medical Center director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein said: “It’s terrible to make the rounds in the hospital and see [patients] who need x-rays and scanning and are suffering because we can’t do the tests they need. As it is, due to winter illness, our infrastructure is unable to cope with the pressure, and corridors and emergency rooms are full.”
He added that “almost all 90 of Sheba’s radiology and scanning technicians, who are very devoted and use the most advanced equipment, are at home. We in the hospital are unable to ease the suffering of patients.”
Rotstein called on the Treasury and the Histadrut to sit down immediately and resolve “this unnecessary labor dispute.” The Health Ministry did not comment.