Medical residents expect court to nix resignations

Doctors say they will go to work if forced to, but will take the issue to the Supreme Court, which they hope will overrule the decision.

September 4, 2011 05:48
3 minute read.
Doctors protest in Haifa [File]

doctor strike haifa_311. (photo credit: Piotr Fliter/Ramban Medical Center)


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The nonprofit Mirsham group, which means prescription and represents 800 medical residents, said that it expects the National Labor Court to deem its members’ resignations illegal following a petition from the State Attorney’s Office to do so – adding that if this is the case, residents will show up for work on Sunday morning, but that it is by no means the end of their protest.

“After the hearing and what I heard went on, we believe that they are going to decide against us, but I hope not,” Yaniv Yogev, a lawyer and CEO of Mirsham, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. “If they decide against us I strongly believe that the decision will be overruled in the Supreme Court.”

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Hospitals in crisis mode as residents set to resign

The Labor Court was supposed to produce a decision by early Saturday evening, but still had not gotten back to the residents by the time of publication.

“This is a very slippery slope. Each doctor signed a personal letter of resignation,” Yogev said. “Forcing them to go to work – that’s slavery.”

Over 1,060 residents had submitted letters of resignations to their hospitals, slated to take effect on Sunday, after deciding that an agreement signed between the government and the Israel Medical Association (IMA) overlooked the residents’ needs.

The Health Ministry had on Wednesday called the resignations “invalid,” requiring the residents to report to work, while the initial state petition had decided that the moves “could cause severe harm to members of the public.”

While the courts “are trying to look at the resignation as a strike,” Yogev argued that in reality, “it’s not a collective resignation, but everybody resigned together.”

“They will try to say it’s a collective resignation and therefore that it’s a strike, and a strike is illegal,” he explained.

But rather than going to jail, the residents will show up to work tomorrow if the resignations are deemed illegal – though this is by no means the end of their plight, according to Yogev.

“Because this is the law, we will respect what the court says,” Yogev said. “Of course we’ll go to the Supreme Court and try to reverse the decision.

But if the law says go to work, we will go to work. We will respect the decision, although we think this is a dangerous decision.”

This is not to say that individual residents would necessarily prefer going to work over spending time in prison.

“I know many that would be willing to go to jail, but we will convince them to go to work.

It is our responsibility to have everybody work together,” Yogev said. “Everybody will obey and we will make sure that everyone will go to work.”

The residents still have other weapons at their disposal, including taking their case to the Supreme Court, filing new letters of resignation and separating from the IMA, which they believe is not serving their cause.

“We will consider trying to replace them – trying to form an organization intending to represent the young residents who are misrepresented,” Yogev said. “We wanted to work with the IMA, but they’re not letting us. They didn’t let us be part of the negotiations, or have a say.”

Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.

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