Nurses extend strike into 8th day as talks resume

Strike continues after talks with Treasury fail yet again; Treasury calls nurses to return to work, says demands are "exaggerated."

Nurses protest at Emek Yezreel College 370 (photo credit: Hadar Zevulun)
Nurses protest at Emek Yezreel College 370
(photo credit: Hadar Zevulun)
Labor sanctions by nurses continue for an eight day on Monday, as negotiations with with Treasury officials are set to resume for the first time since Thursday.
The nurses said they will continue the strike until they receive their demand for higher salaries
Deputy director of Rambam Hospital, Dr. Yaron Bar-El, told Israel Radio on Thursday that the state must lean towards the nurses and improve their pay.
On Wednesday, the Treasury called on nurses to return to work after a work dispute over their conditions and salary had kept them on a limited schedule for two days.
In a statement, the Treasury stated that it had offered “a number of offers meant to solve the dispute and our differences with the nurses,” without mentioning what the offers in question were specifically.
The Treasury said it was responsible for maintaining the entire health system and the economy as a whole, and could not afford to give in to “exaggerated demands.”
Earlier on Tuesday night, the Israel Nurses Union and Treasury wage officials were having “important negotiations,” union chief Ilana Cohen told The Jerusalem Post.
But she did not give any details or predictions as to whether the nurses’ sanctions would enter their third day on Wednesday or be halted.
The nurses implemented the sanctions over the Treasury’s failure to reach agreement on a new labor agreement and increase the number of nurses.
The Health Ministry’s medical administration made its first statement on Tuesday night, saying that there was a “significant decline in activity” in the hospital surgical theaters, and reductions of 30 percent to 50% in admissions to the public hospitals and in visits to Clalit Health Services clinics.
Only cancer patients and other urgent patients have undergone surgery in the past two days. In addition, a serious slowdown has been felt in outpatient clinics, and the queues for examination and treatment have lengthened considerably, the ministry said.
Internal medicine departments are heavily occupied with people suffering from complications of winter-connected conditions, but the patients are receiving treatment, the Health Ministry said. The ministry’s recommendations that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot is even more important now.
Some hospital emergency rooms are very overburdened, while others have seen a decline of patients because people are aware of the nurses’ sanctions and have kept away. Delivery rooms are functioning normally.
Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On said that Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu “has dried up the public health system and presented the nurses with the bill.” Gal-On said the nurses‚ struggle was “completely justified, as they work under impossible conditions with a severe manpower shortage, too few beds and not enough equipment.”
Meretz called on the Finance and Health ministries to accept the nurses’ demands for higher salaries and more benefits and bring about a quick end to the sanctions.