Coronavirus tests will only be administered to those who are hospitalized starting Sunday, after negotiations between lab workers and the Finance Ministry exploded on Thursday.
Lab workers have declared a strike starting on Sunday, meaning coronavirus tests will only be conducted in emergency situations, according to KAN news. Some 2,000 lab workers from about 400 labs that provide public coronavirus tests will strike on Sunday for an indefinite period of time. During the strike, only emergency services will be provided. Public health funds will not provide public services that require lab work. Coronavirus tests will be conducted, but only those with positive results will be notified, in order to cut the chain of infection.
"After years of discussions, and certainly in the current era of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Finance should commit to a real change in the attitude of public laboratory workers," said Esther Admon, chair of the Israel Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers, on Thursday.
Admon decried "non-binding statements,...irresponsibility, thoughtlessness, wastefulness and backstabbing" and claimed that the labs were being privatized in deals hidden from the public eye. She invited the Finance Ministry to sit with the workers and present a commitment and to reveal agreements signed with My Heritage and privately-owned companies.
The lab workers are requesting a starting salary of at least NIS 50 per hour, a change in the operating schedule of the labs, a plan to correct deficiencies which were presented in the State Comptroller's report and the termination of employment of employees hired on personal contracts/research funds.
The strike was announced last week. At the time, Admon stressed that the Finance and Health Ministries have been "playing ping-pong" with the lab workers for over five years.
This will be the first strike by lab workers since 2018.Tobias Siegal contributed to this article.