JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
Some 15,000 nurses went on a 24-hour warning strike today in a demand for better wages. By this afternoon the strike seemed to be complete, and disruptions in the medical services were reported from various places.
Only emergency crews were on hand in the hospitals to assist the doctors and only emergency cases were admitted. Most of the operations scheduled for today were postponed. Only maternity wards and pediatrics departments were fully staffed. YAEL, a women’s organization which does volunteer hospital work, increased its activities to assist the doctors but barely helped the severe shortage.
The nurses demand that the government grant them special preference in salaries above and beyond general wage hikes in the economy. They claim that due to poor wages, there has been a continuous dropout of nurses from the profession. The result is that increasing hospital needs must be shared by a diminishing number of nurses, thus making work unbearable, according to the nurses’ spokesman.
The plight of the nurses is generally recognized by the government, but despite demands by the Health Ministry, the government has not yet approved any special privileges for the nurses, partly because of the fear that such privileges will result in demands from other branches in the economy, which will argue that they are just as vital as the nurses.