IMA declares work dispute for public-sector physicians

Medical association says seven months of wage talks with Treasury have "reached a dead end," although salaries are not the only issue.

311_doctors office (photo credit: MCT)
311_doctors office
(photo credit: MCT)
After a decade in which it committed itself not to strike, the Israel Medical Association declared an official work dispute on Sunday after announcing Thursday that seven months of wage negotiations with the Treasury had “reached a dead end.”
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said that the physicians in the public sector had shown “enormous responsibility” by abandoning the strike weapon for a decade – a stance made possible by the state’s agreement to put its previous wage dispute into arbitration. The nearly 20,000 physicians’ main significant gains in the solution of that dispute, including the third and final stage of payment (a 24 percent hike), were completed only a few months ago, but last fall the IMA revived negotiations for the next contract.
Eidelman said it was not only salary problems but major problems of imbalance in the health-care system itself that made it “ill.”
The IMA head said that it was very hard for doctors to declare a wage dispute and that they did not want to harm patients to whom they were devoted. But Eidelman said: "We can’t just stand there when in the long term, the public system is liable to collapse."
The work dispute involves community clinics, hospitals and other public places of employment of physicians.
The Treasury “is laughing in our face,” Eidelman declared. “It wants to keep the health-care system ill. We have negotiated in good faith, but the responses have not been genuine and to the point.”
The Treasury declared that it had offered differential increases to strengthen the periphery, encourage young doctors and give incentives for specialties that were inadequately manned, but “it was not enough for the IMA.”
The Treasury had also agreed to certain increases for all doctors in exchange for an agreement that they would punch time clocks when starting and ending work. The Finance Ministry has claimed that some physicians leave public workplaces during the day to do extra work outside.