Strike Hits Government Hospitals

Emergency rooms at government hospitals were disrupted by a strike of nurses and administrative personnel today but were able to function without serious delays.

Doctors were on hand to treat soldiers and emergency cases. Non-emergency patients postponed their visits. Private hospitals and those of the Histadrut’s Kupat Holim sickfund were not affected by the walkout and took up much of the workload. Drivers of Magen David Adom ambulances were instructed to take patients to those hospitals instead of the government institutions.

The nurses and administrative employes are demanding salary increases and additional staffing. Health Ministry sources said that while the situation was in hand today, it could become serious if the emergency room staffs continue their walkout and a backlog builds up of patients seeking treatment.

CALM IN OTHER STRIKE-THREATENED SECTORS

Meanwhile, temporary calm prevailed in two other strike-threatened sectors of government-employed workers. High school teachers, protesting the dismissal notices the Education Ministry sent to 5,000-6,000 of their non-tenured colleagues last week, agreed to conduct a biology test today, the first of a series of written examinations for students seeking admission to universities.

But they refused to hold the oral examinations needed by secondary school students for matriculation. The teachers are threatening a future strike unless the dismissals are withdrawn. They are aimed at cutting the Education Ministry’s budget. The teachers also refuse to forego incremental wage hikes due them since last September but not paid because of budget constraints.

Postal workers who were supposed to begin a three-day strike yesterday, cancelled it at the 11th hour to allow talks to continue on proposed major reforms in the postal system.

The workers favor a State-owned postal corporation independent of the Communications Ministry which could hire additional workers and prepare its own budget. The principal grievance of the postal workers has been work overload. This developed because many more people are using the post office banks to pay taxes and utility bills since the commercial banks introduced high fees for such transactions. The postal banks charge no fee.

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