IMA declares work dispute over Treasury bill

Bill likely to "hurt doctors and endanger public health"; hospital residents demand to be consulted.

LEONID EIDELMAN 370 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
The Israel Medical Association, which signed a new contract with doctors’ public employers after holding a long strike in 2011, declared a work dispute on Tuesday. IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said the reason was changes proposed by the Treasury as part of its Arrangements Bill accompanying this year’s budget proposals.
"We stand before a struggle of economic decrees expected in the Arrangements Bill that are liable to hurt doctors and endanger public health. We will not allow harm to the contract; public health is not a table in an Excel program," he said.
Eidelman said the Treasury’s wage chief did not respond to queries raised by the IMA. "We demand that unilateral moves not be taken by the employers. We expect the Treasury wage chief to preserve existing labor relations and collective agreements so he does not harm physicians’ work conditions."
The Treasury has contemplated a number of changes, from taxing grants to doctors who agree to work in the periphery to limiting the tenure of government hospital directors. The IMA fears that massive cuts expected in the state budget will violate Treasury agreements that were reached with the IMA at the end of the strike.
However, the Union of Public Hospital Residents reacted to the IMA’s announcement saying that they would not join a strike without the medical association consulting them before making any decisions.
"Even though the agreement with the doctors is a bad one and most doctors opposed it," the union said, "our organization will not agreement to any worsening in conditions and any harm to public health. Unfortunately," declared the organization of rebels against the IMA, "Dr. Eidelman’s and the IMA management’s running of things during the strike reduced power of the IMA and its legitimacy in the eyes of physicians. We will not join a strike this time without the IMA consulting and coordinating things with us."