JERUSALEM (May. 18)
More than 2,000 Israeli physicians employed by the Ministry of Health, the Hadassah medical network, the Joint Distribution Committee’s Malben program, the Histadrut’s sick fund and other institutions today went on a three-day strike.
For the time being the Israel Medical Association is maintaining skeleton medical crews in all hospitals and medical centers, but has warned that if no solution to the doctors’ problems is found within the next two days the work stoppage might be “tightened.” The strike followed the government’s refusal to negotiate for a wage raise.
Today’s action, which had been set two weeks ago, was mainly in the nature of a protest at the decision not to negotiate. Dr. A. Avigdori, president of the association, told newsmen that the labor federation had threatened to expel the doctors’ association and was attempting to “break” the association, and that the government claims it cannot increase the doctors’ salaries during this fiscal year.
Late yesterday, Premier Moshe Sharett convoked a meeting of the praesidium of the coalition parties in an attempt to reach a solution of the problem and head off the strike. He failed. The directorate of the Histadrut sick fund issued a statement to the effect that since it had recently reduced fees for membership in the medical plan it could not grant a salary increase.
Both the Cabinet and Parliament were busy today attempting to find a way out of the situation. The doctors, meanwhile, have adopted a more inflexible position. Where they were prepared earlier to delay action while a mixed commission was named to investigate their claims, they now insist upon immediate salary increases.