Labor Court issues injunction against medical residents

Late-night injunction follows walk-out strikes by residents over pending labor deal; Peres calls for quick solution to "intolerable situation."

By
July 21, 2011 01:17
4 minute read.
Doctors protest outside the Knesset [file]

doctors protest 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The National Labor Court decided late Wednesday night to issue an injunction against rebelling medical residents clamoring to strike on their own – without permission from the Israel Medical Association.

During the day, police had prevented hundreds of protesting residents and interns from entering the headquarters of the IMA on Rehov Jabotinsky in Ramat Gan.

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At Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, doctors left their respective departments and disrupted traffic on Rehov Shaul Hamelech near the IDF Military Headquarters (Kirya) as they marched toward the IMA offices.

Hundreds of medical residents walked out of hospitals in most of the country – though not in Jerusalem – throughout Wednesday in protest against a potential agreement to end the labor dispute between the IMA and the Treasury.

Residents abandoned their respective departments at Barzilai, Assaf Harofeh, the Rabin Medical Center- Beilinson Campus, Meir, Wolfson, Sheba, Rambam Medical Center and Shalvata hospitals.

In an effort on Wednesday to help both the Treasury and the doctors climb down from their rigid positions and end the long labor dispute, President Shimon Peres called on the two sides to do everything they could to “reach a solution for patients and the future of medicine.”

Speaking at a ceremony honoring outstanding workers, Peres commented on the sanctions that began in April, saying, “The situation that has been created harms patients above all, and this is intolerable. I am not interested in preaching to either side, but I call on all those involved to reach a solution.”

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Even as the court, presided over by Judge Nili Arad, was discussing ways to end the dispute, the IMA – instructed by Arad not to provide any information in the meantime – officially insisted that no agreement had yet been reached. It did, however, issue this press release on Wednesday morning: “A total of 126 days have passed since we declared a work dispute. Our struggle is at its height. There is a lot of anger among doctors who struggle daily for the future of the public health system. Only a significant change in the system will make it possible to restore doctors’ daily lives to their routine.”

For the second day in a row, the IMA found itself the opponent of not only the Treasury negotiators, but also of many young medical residents and interns, who are the lowest on the medical totem pole, earning the least and working the longest hours.

A group of these have organized themselves into a non-profit organization called Mirsham (literally “prescription”) and hired lawyer Tal Keret, head of the labor law department in the Zissman-Aharoni-Geyer Law Office, to represent them “in their struggle.”

The young IMA rebels maintain that the senior physicians represent the interests of specialists and other veteran physicians more vigorously, and are not doing enough to reduce the number of night and weekend shifts filled by the residents and interns.

Rambam Medical Center’s doctors’ committee announced Wednesday that on Thursday, the whole hospital would run on a minimal emergency schedule. No elective surgery will be performed, outpatient clinics and diagnostic institutes will be closed, and only urgent care will be provided.

Senior IMA executives plan to visit member physicians in various hospitals and health fund districts in the coming days to explain their position.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the haredi Radio Kol Hai, the medium on which he is interviewed almost daily, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman verbally attacked the medical residents and interns – and, indirectly, the IMA – by saying that the young doctors should not have gone out to fight with the IMA at a time when “the labor dispute is in its final stages.”

Litzman maintained that “the crisis is within the IMA” and that its chairman, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, with whom Litzman has often crossed swords, “is a leader without followers.”

The United Torah Judaism MK said that during the last three months, he has often fought on behalf of the residents to improve their work conditions, but never received any support from them.

Litzman said that representatives of the Treasury and the Health Ministry on the one hand and the IMA on the other had put together a proposed agreement and were waiting on Wednesday night for Judge Arad’s approval.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report

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