Police block protesting doctors from entering IMA offices

Staff leave departments at half of country's hospitals, block traffic, demand solution to ongoing negotiations between doctors' union, Treasury.

doctors protest 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
doctors protest 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Police prevented hundreds of protesting doctors from entering the headquarters of the Israel Medical Associationon (IMA) on Jabotinsky Street in Ramat Gan on Wednesday.
At Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv doctors left their respective departments and disrupted traffic on King Saul Street near the IDF Military Headquarters (Kirya) as they marched toward the IMA offices in Ramat Gan.
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Hundreds of physicians and medical residents walked out of hospitals across the country throughout Wednesday in protest of a potential agreement to end the labor dispute between the IMA and the Treasury.
Doctors and residents abandoned their respective departments at Barzilai, Ichilov, Assaf Harofeh, Belinson, Meir, Wolfson, Sheba, Rambam and Shalvata hospitals. The medical centers affected by the demonstrations were operating with a reduced staff as a result of the walk-outs.
Residents claim that the agreement presented does not benefit them, the added manpower slots do not satisfy them and that the addition in wages are "ridiculous," Army Radio reported.
Also Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman told Army Radio that the IMA is scared of signing an agreement with the Treasury to end the strike.
"The parties have agreed on almost all the details [in the agreement], and there is a feeling that they want to start from square one, I don't know why," Litzman said. "I don't think the Treasury wants to start over. It has progressed and compromised [in negotiations]."
Negotiations which lasted nearly 20 hours between the IMA and the Treasury ended early Wednesday morning with no progress.
National Labor Court President Nili Arad, who has worked intensively as a go-between in the last few weeks, has threatened to issue restraining orders, requested by the state, against the doctors unless they reach an agreement. Arad will hold a discussion Wednesday afternoon to debate the request.
As the labor court is due to go on vacation on Wednesday, it appeared Arad was adamant about ending the dispute either with an agreement or court sanctions.