Workers strike at Kupat Holim Meuhedet

workers strike to protest against “failure to advance in negotiation” on various issues.

Hospital beds 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospital beds 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Some 200 workers of Kupat Holim Meuhedet demonstrated on Wednesday outside its headquarters on Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, and others went on strike to protest against “failure to advance in negotiation” on various issues.
It was the first-ever strike at the country’s third-largest health fund since it was founded (out of a different insurer, Amamit) in 1974.
The non-medical staffers are especially upset that “some new workers have been hired with better conditions” than veteran ones. The ones who did not only demonstrate but also went on strike were dentists and dental hygienists who treat children as part of the government’s dental coverage plan.
The health fund has 5,500 medical and paramedical staffers; of these, the doctors are members of the Israel Medical Association and the nurses are members of the Israel Nurses Association and are not unionized with other Meuhedet staffers.
The health fund has had new management for the last year, after the state comptroller disclosed alleged mismanagement and criminal actions. Now the workers charge that the new management has changed the wage structure, adding 120 senior administrative positions at better salary rates while freezing and cutting those of veteran staffers.
If serious negotiations are not held, they will take “organization action,” they warned. The Histadrut labor federation, which has given its approval, said that if there is no advance in negotiations, they will take more serious action against management.
At present, the labor federation said, “management is just making the motions of negotiating.”
“We have been waiting for a year and a half patiently,” union head Shela Ventura said. “Talks have been in name only so far. Today, we say enough.”
Meanwhile, management issued the terse announcement that it “honors its workers’ right to organize and is sure that they will know how to run themselves legally without hurting the level of service to customers. We have held intensive talks since November 2011 with worker representatives.
We call on the employees to return to the negotiating table for talks that will recognize their rights while also the changes that have to be made in the health fund now.”