Aid staff to strike at Afula hospital

Union, seeking higher pay, plans action at a different Clalit hospital every day.

Hospital generic 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
Hospital generic 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Families of patients at Afula's Emek Medical Center are well advised to bring food, pyjamas and cleanup supplies on Sunday, as Clalit Health Services' maintenance, administrative and auxiliary staffers will be on strike. Clalit's union of administrative and maintenance workers said Saturday night that it had decided to take protest action against the Finance Ministry in a "gradual way" and not to take action at all of the largest health fund's 14 hospitals at once. On Thursday morning, worker assemblies were held at all Clalit hospitals because of the Treasury's "failure to fulfil its commitment to wage agreements with the workers," said the union, headed by Prosper Ben-Hamu. The union representing some 12,000 employees has been demanding higher salaries, revised definitions of jobs and changes in the number of required job slots, as the professions have "changed tremendously" in the last decade. Sunday's strike at Afula will make it impossible to perform elective surgery (however, urgent surgery and deliveries of babies will take place). A union spokesman said cleaning and cooking meals would not be performed and secretaries, laundry workers and clerks would stay at home. "Every day, another hospital will be affected," the spokesman said. The 700-bed hospital is the largest in the northeast of the country and serves a catchment area of over 500,000 people. The union said that so far, the Finance Ministry has not made any offers. Clalit management commented that in April 2008, an agreement was signed with the union ensuring "industrial quiet." The Finance Ministry participated in negotiations, but no agreement was reached. The health fund's management said last week that it regretted the sanctions and hoped the union would continue to negotiate and not cause harm to patients.