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An Israeli nurse stands next to the bed of a severely wounded Syrian at the Western Galilee Hospital in the northern city of Nahariya.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Health Ministry seeks labor court injunction to end nurses' strike
Significantly reduced nursing services will be in operation for emergency treatment only.
The Health Ministry applied for a late-night labor court injunction on Tuesday to prevent a second day of open-ended strike action by the Israel Nurses Union, which halted work earlier in the day following a dispute over working conditions.

The majority of nursing staff were instructed to walk out at 7 a.m. after the failure of last-minute negotiations on Monday evening between representatives of the union and the Health Ministry.

Significantly reduced nursing services will be in operation for emergency treatment only.

Negotiations between the union and the government, which commenced in May, concern reducing nurse workloads, increasing staff numbers, the worsening of terms of employment, and declining salaries.

“Nurses in Israel are not forced laborers,” the union said in a statement. “[They] will no longer lend a hand to work beyond what is required of them, to tasks, procedures and examinations, without the addition of staff and a suitable wage increase.”

Health services affected include outpatient or ambulatory care, including clinics, health institutes and daycare centers. Operating rooms and hospital departments will work with a reduced nursing staff.

Maccabi Healthcare nurses will not participate in the strike, and services there will continue unaffected.

“The nurses are doing holy work,” said Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, addressing a Health Ministry conference on Tuesday morning. “We are aware of their rights, and it is important to us that the nurses receive what they deserve. The decision to strike, however, is incorrect. Negotiations over salaries and rights should not lead to harming patients. We have appealed to the labor court, and we call on the nurses to sit down for negotiations.”

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz backed the strike, hailing it as a fight for the lives of all Israeli citizens.

“The workload faced by the nurses, the disregard for their working conditions and their wages constitutes a cheapening of human life,” said Peretz, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “who is also health minister, must understand that the collapsing health system is entirely his responsibility, and he must internalize the fact that shifting the blame is not a solution.”
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