Medical residents to remain in hospitals over weekend

Delay comes under pressure from national Labor Court, which declined to let them resign; not all residents expected to heed to agreement.

By
October 6, 2011 20:07
2 minute read.
Doctors protest in Haifa [File]

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

 
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Medical residents agreed yet again on Thursday night to postpone their resignations from hospitals until Monday to ensure adequate medical care over Yom Kippur and the first two days of next week. They came under pressure from the National Labor Court, which declined to let them resign over what they claim are unfair conditions agreed upon in the Israel Medical Association’s nine-year labor agreement with the employers, which was signed at the end of August.

But not all the residents said they would give the negotiators a few more days to talk and try to find a solution and pledged to walk out immediately, Channel 2 reported. All through the day, representatives of the young doctors had meeting after meeting and reiterated their intention to resign, even though without court approval, they would be in contempt of court and be liable to face a two-year prison sentence.

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Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman met in his office earlier in the day and heard their demands for higher pay, set periods for rest and other demands. Previously, Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu tried to persuade the doctors to remain in their jobs until after Succot to allow the negotiators a last opportunity to bridge the gaps.

In the morning, 50 residents at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and a handful at Sheba Medical Center did not show up on the job. Hospital directors were instructed by the Health Ministry and the Civil Service Commission to send personal messages to each of them saying that they must appear by 11.30 a.m. or be dismissed permanently and be accused of contempt of court. Most of the doctors went to work.

To prevent outright chaos in the event that 700 residents resign from their posts in the wards and emergency rooms, the Health Ministry opened a situation room in its Rehov Rivka office that would coordinate and make arrangements for specialists to fill the holes; ministry officials know that the arrangements would be only temporary.

Dozens of medical residents who failed to show up for their shifts at Ichilov and Sheba Hospitals Thursday morning showed up in the early afternoon, Army Radio reported, bending to a ruling by the National Labor Court. Doctors at Sheba Hospital announced their decision to suspend their resignations until Monday, in accordance with the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's request.

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Their failure to report to work represented the first time that significant numbers of residents in a labor dispute did not show up for work since their mass resignation in September.

The absence of some 50 residents reportedly caused widespread confusion in the hospitals, despite the fact that most of the over 700 residents who initially resigned heeded Wednesday's court decision.

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