Dichter: Consolidate rescue services

MDA workers' threatened sanctions may prevent Jerusalem March.

By JUDY SIEGEL, JPOST STAFF
October 8, 2006 16:52
2 minute read.
avi dichter 298 88 aj

avi dichter 298 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter called on Sunday for the establishment of one umbrella organization that would amalgamate all rescue services comprising Magen David Adom, Israel Fire Fighters and The Home Front Command. Dicher said that the war in the North led to a recognition of the need to increase cooperation between the rescue organizations to ensure greater efficiency in cases of emergency. Meanwhile, Tuesday's annual Jerusalem March is in danger of being cancelled due to sanctions by Magen David Adom workers in the capital, the MDA workers' union announced on Sunday. The union blamed an "ongoing work dispute with MDA management" and said that in protest, its staffers would not collect fees for ambulance and mobile intensive care unit services. None of Jerusalem MDA's 150 workers will provide first-aid services at soccer games or other events in the city, even though event organizers pay for the service, the union said. However, MDA spokesman Yerucam Mandola said that all scheduled events, including the Jerusalem March, would go ahead, and that MDA workers from other parts of the country would fill in for anyone who applied sanctions. He added that "only a small number" of MDA workers decided to apply sanctions "due to personal considerations...and that they are harming the organization's good name and blatantly violating codes of behavior and understandings reached with management." However, the union said that if management does not carry out serious negotiations with its representatives over the next 24 hours, employees would upgrade their protest and halt medical services at events, including the Jerusalem March. Without ambulances and medics on duty to treat any of the thousands of participants, the event was in doubt because of the risks, the union said. Six months ago, a work dispute between the union and management broke out. The union charged that negotiations were fruitless and that management made "attempts to harm committee members." Therefore, they decided to take action to "solve the organization's problems once and for all." Union chief Zohar Galai said that MDA staffers "are trying to save lives and make an honorable living, but in exchange, management is making trouble for them and pressing them against the wall with false claims and continued attempts to delegitimize them." "Management is taking unilateral steps and harming the workers," Galai said. The union said that Jerusalem management, headed by Ronen Bashari, and national management, headed by director-general Eli Bin, have been trying to reduce vacation days and "forget" to pay travel expenses. "One worker who has a family to support has been working for seven years but management has refused to give him a permanent, full-time position," the union said. "Jerusalem staffers and management have hardly been speaking to each other for months."

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