TEL AVIV (Jul. 5)
Government hospitals, still not fully recovered from the four month-long doctors strike that ended last week, were hit by a work stoppage by administrative and technical personnel today. Public health services were also affected by the walk-out.
The stoppage was called as a one-day demonstration but hospital sources said it might continue tomorrow. The strikers are demanding implementation of recommendations made by a government commission more than 10 years ago to equalize their wages and fringe benefits with employees of Kupat Holim, the Histadrut sick fund. Histadrut hospitals and clinics were not involved in today’s action.
A labor court, which yesterday rejected a government application for an injunction to ban or postpone the walk-out, ordered the strikers to prepare the necessities for patient care before they left their jobs. Accordingly, food was cooked in advance to be served to patients by doctors and nurses. This was not done however at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, one of the largest government hospitals.
At about 30 hospitals the reception of patients was halted in the absence of clerical staff who joined the walkout of kitchen and laundry workers, cleaners and porters. Surgery was postponed because no one was available to scrub the operating rooms. Patient care was further snarled by the walkout yesterday of 900 X-Ray technicians who are demanding shorter hours and better protection from radiation.
ARBITRATION AGREEMENT SIGNED
Today’s strike closed the central bureau of the Health Ministry in Jerusalem and district health offices. Routine inspections of water supply and other health services were suspended.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Israel Medical Association and the Finance Ministry met today at the Attorney General’s office to sign the agreement for binding arbitration which ended the doctors strike. A neutral arbitrator must be nominated within 48 hours of the signing.