Nurses, Treasury clash on agreement details

Nurses reject Treasury offer of a 12% wage increase in a five year contract; talks continuing in the strike's 16th day.

Nurses protest at Haifa University 370 (photo credit: Hadar Zevulun)
Nurses protest at Haifa University 370
(photo credit: Hadar Zevulun)
The National Labor Court, headed by Judge Nili Arad, was due Tuesday night to reconvene on discussing the nursing strike, after optimism about a settlement with the Treasury on a 12 percent wage increase was dashed.
Israel Nurses Union chief Ilana Cohen walked out of talks in the morning when Finance Ministry officials insisted that the wage contract be in effect for five years. The nurses said they would not agree to any contract that went beyond four years.
“Ilana Cohen had previously urged the government negotiators to sit and talk until white smoke emerged, but she herself walked out,” said a Treasury spokeswoman.
Although Treasury officials and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman had been insisting for weeks that no accord could be signed until after the January 22 Knesset election – because the present government could not force a new one to implement it – on Tuesday the negotiators changed their tune and said they were willing to hike nurses’ salaries by 12 percent. In addition to the length of the contract, it was not clear whether that increase would be differential – with younger nurses or those in the periphery getting more.
The sanctions have caused the postponement of tens of thousands of elective operations and other procedures, reduced the number of nurses in hospital wards, kept nurses out of Clalit Health Services’ clinics on some of the days and halted services at schools, Tipat Halav (wellbaby) clinics and district health offices.