Striking lab technicians demonstrate at Prime Minister’s Residence

The lab technicians have continued to carry out coronavirus tests but are only reporting on those that are positive.

Lab workers demonstrate outside of Prime Minister's Residence amid strike (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lab workers demonstrate outside of Prime Minister's Residence amid strike
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hundreds of lab technicians who are on their third day of striking, protested at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to demand that the prime minister intervene to bring their walkout to a swift conclusion.
The protesters, who carried signs protesting their difficult working conditions and economic hardship, said that they had gotten no response from anyone in the government to their demonstration. Many carried signs bearing the slogan, “No medicine without labs!”
“The laboratories are collapsing, but the government is in the Emirates. The frustration is huge that the government is throwing NIS 4 billion into the private laboratories.
“If only there was a tenth of the amount invested in the public labs, we would have no reason to strike,” Esther Admon, chair of the Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers, told the protesters. There is a “complete disconnect” between the protesters and Finance Ministry authorities, the organizers of the protest said in a statement.
Admon said the strikers had received messages of support from Arnon Afek, the chair of the Association of Israeli Hospital Management and the Israel Medical Association World Federation, and other hospital officials.
The Finance Ministry on Sunday said in a statement: “Generous offers were made but rejected. We regret that despite the agreement signed with the lab workers and the significant raises we gave them for processing coronavirus tests, the association is choosing to take advantage of the situation and go on strike at a time that is very sensitive, both in terms of economics and in terms of public health. We are willing to go back to the negotiating table at any time and call on the Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers to join the fight.”
In a related story, Roni Ozeri, the chairman of the Association of Nursing Homes (ABA), made an urgent request to stop the tender for coronavirus tests in nursing homes that the Health Ministry intends to issue.
In a letter to Prof. Nimrod Maimon, who heads a Health Ministry program to deal with issues in retirement homes, and coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu, Ozeri said, ”To our amazement, according to the tender, the only quality condition for selecting the supplier is the owner of the cheapest offer without any additional quality criteria.” Ozeri added that he understood from the wording of the tender that “it also appears that there is a trend to reduce the number of inspections in nursing homes and sheltered housing for economic reasons. We hope that the country does not return to the dark days of the beginning of the corona crisis in which the country tried to save money and resources and completely prevented tests in nursing homes and sheltered housing at direct risk to the lives of the elderly.“
In his letter, he called on government ministers “to immediately intervene to stop this nonsense and to determine that the choice of supplier will be made not only for financial considerations but also for quality considerations that also take into account human life.”
The lab technicians are processing coronavirus tests during the strike but only notifying people who test positive and carrying out life-saving tests in emergency rooms.