doctor strike haifa_311.
(photo credit: Piotr Fliter/Ramban Medical Center)
In a frustrating game of ping-pong, over 700 medical residents were prevented at
least until Thursday afternoon from resigning from their hospital posts and told
to continue to negotiate.
RELATED:Medical residents agree to postpone resignation by 48 hours
The young doctors had said they were tired of
talks after two hours on Tuesday night and turned down Prime Minister (and
formally Health Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu, who asked for a two-week respite
to find a solution to the labor dispute.
Poised to hand over their
stethoscopes, cellphones and other equipment and say farewell to their patients
on Thursday morning, they were prevented from doing so by National Labor Court
President Nili Arad, who on Wednesday afternoon suspended the doctors’
resignation letters. The court was responding to an urgent request filed by the
state for an emergency hearing.
In the request, filed by attorneys Doron
Yefet and Orit Podemsky of the State Attorney’s Office, the state accused
residents of “running to carry out their threat of resignation” despite Monday’s
National Labor Court ruling to freeze the resignations while the state and
residents continued their negotiations.
According to the state, 240
residents from the Ichilov, Sheba, Rambam and Bnei Zion hospitals who submitted
resignation letters from September 4 to 6 had decided they would not show up for
work on Thursday.
The state accused residents of taking part in “mass
resignations as part of their struggle to improve working conditions and
The state argued that it would cause chaos and closed
departments in the hospitals if all abandoned their posts at once, and that if
it occurred, it would have to be gradual.
According to the state, a mass
resignation constituted an “illegal and forbidden strike” as defined in the
Labor Court’s ruling in September.
In Wednesday’s ruling, Arad told the
vying sides to submit a written update of their progress in negotiations. The
state was further ordered to submit reports from managers of those hospitals
named as affected by Thursday’s proposed resignations and asked that those
hospital managers also attend Thursday’s hearing.
Medical residents from
Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (which included Ichilov Hospital), Rambam
Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center, which has received support from senior
medical administrators who advocate the giving of Sharap (private medical
services) not currently allowed there, were among the strongest advocates of the
Just in case, the Health Ministry published phone numbers
of hospitals around the country where patients and their families could receive
information on what medical services would still be available.
Finance Ministry released a list of offers it had made to the medical residents
that seemed generous enough to make the young physicians look stubborn and
unwilling to reach a compromise. But despite the offers, the Treasury declared
that the labor agreement it signed with the Israel Medical Association in late
August would remain in force.
According to a survey of doctors by the
Pharma Quest company, there was “massive support” for the resigning
Fully 78 percent of a sample of 750 veteran physicians said
they supported the young doctors’ demands for higher pay and better conditions.
They agreed that the residents are “a new generation unwilling to put up with
what they’ve been fed.”
The poll showed criticism of Israel Medical
Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman, who signed the accord with the