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Labor Disputes in Hospitals, Construction, Ashdod Continues to Plague Israel

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The strike situation in Israel not only continued but worsened today. The striking government hospital physicians, supported by their colleagues at the municipal hospitals, decided to intensify their action today by not staffing the mother-and-child-care clinics. Additionally, as a result of the continuing action, hospital conditions are becoming increasingly unkempt and unsanitary. Only patients in serious danger are accepted. A cartoon shows a doctor closing his ambulance door to a patient and saying: “Not accepted–he is still breathing.” Moreover, administrative physicians in the Health Ministry have as of today discontinued their medical reports and their participation in Ministry consultations. The external clinics are paralyzed, and patients are being directed to private practitioners, who already have an unprecedented workload.

Labor troubles increased at Ashdod Port too, with the refusal of customs officials to work overtime. As a result, the Independent Liberals have threatened to quit the coalition government unless it initiates a bill to curtail strikes in essential services and force arbitration in public services. The threat was made by Hillel Zeidel, head of the party’s labor movement and a member of the Histadrut Executive. Israeli construction work has now been affected by labor problems too. Several projects here had to be halted because the strike of cement workers in Ramleh has reduced the cement output to one-sixth its normal flow. The Nesher Cement Company is considering the importation of Rumanian cement to meet the demand. On the positive side, the dispute at Lydda Airport ended today after the workers and the Communications Ministry reached an agreement.

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