Mental health professionals threaten strike, accusing Health Ministry 'of contempt'

Employees working at mental health hostels and sheltered workshops will hold warning strike after not receiving paychecks.

Hospital  beds. (photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Hospital beds.
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Some 7,000 staffers at the Health Ministry’s hostels and sheltered workshops for recovering psychiatric patients in the community will hold a warning strike on Wednesday after they have not received their paychecks.
The workers committee said that the facilities are “on the verge of collapse because the ministry ignores the wage agreements and does not update minimum- wage rates and other salaries.
As part of the work stoppage, various services will be suspended for 14,000 patients in hostels and 5,000 in sheltered workshops where patients are employed. In addition, no new residents will be accepted.
Over the past year, the forum representing the workers has “appealed many times” to the ministry to update the budget so rehabilitation facilities can provide sheltered enrichment activities and excursions, purchase recreational equipment and meet the costs of current workers and counselors.
Although the institutions are “in very severe financial distress,” they have never delayed salaries but have instead covered the costs themselves.
The forum warned that if the ministry does not respond immediately and pay its debts, the warning strike will be carried out.
Shaul Boaron, chairman of the forum of mental health hostels, said on Tuesday: “We will not allow the ministry to show contempt [for us] and harm tens of thousands of helpless residents and participants who are undergoing rehabilitation.”
The ministry commented that the “threatened strike is not by the employees regarding their work agreement but the violation of an agreement by the entrepreneurs who run the facilities and a cynical use for a personal struggle that is being dealt with in the courts.
“The owners,” said the ministry spokesman, “are required to [help] their patients as part of the agreement with the ministry. It must be stressed that if they abandon helpless people, strike and leave the housing facilities, they will expose themselves to personal lawsuits, and we regard this as very serious.”