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Hospital Nurses Stage Walkout

Hospital nurses throughout the country left their wards for three hours Thursday, handing their patients over temporarily to the doctors, families and friends of the sick. The only departments to continue normal work were the emergency and reception centers in the hospitals, the intensive care units, and maternity and premature babies departments.

The demonstrative work stoppage, from noon to three p.m., was intended to press for the demands of the some 10,000 female and male nurses employed in hospitals, out of the total nursing population of some 22,000 for representation in a separate union–or at least a special section within the Histadrut’s General Nurses Union–to represent them in their special demands.

The said their main objective was not for increased pay but for better working conditions in the hospitals. The nurses union opposed the work stoppage, pointing out that they had recently gained a 12 percent salary increase for nurses, and were in the process of negotiating the employment of more nursing personnel.

DEMONSTRATION AT HOME OF PREMIER

In addition to the hospital nurses, the General Union’s members include nurses employed in sick fund and other clinics and public health nurses, all of whom work normal daytime hours, unlike the hospital nurses who have longer hours and work in shifts throughout the day and night.

Representatives of the hospital nurses have been camping out outside the home of Premier Shimon Peres in recent days to draw attention to their demands. Ministry of Health officials admit the hospital nurses have a good case, but say they can negotiate only with the Histadrut Nurses Association, within the framework of general government economic and employment policies.

The Health Ministry did not implement its threat to obtain back to work court orders for the striking nurses, as the latter had said they would not obey the court orders, preferring to go to prison for contempt of court. The hospital nurses have threatened to go out on a more extended work stoppage next week if their demands are not met.

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