Hospital Nurses Threaten to Hold a Full Strike on Monday

Israel’s hospital nurses, who held a three-hour work stoppage on Friday, reiterated Sunday their determination to hold a full strike Monday if their demands for establishment of an independent union, or at least an autonomous division within the General Nurses Union (which also includes clinic and public service nurses) is not met immediately.

The issue of the 11,000 male and female nurses in hospitals throughout the country, and of the health services in general, was raised at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Israel Radio said the presentation by Health Minister Mordechai Gur was more a monologue than a debate, with ministers asking only a few questions.

The nurses said they were prepared to go to prison rather than obey court-imposed back-to-work orders if such were issued. “The prisons just can’t take 11,000 detainees if we are found guilty of contempt of court,” they said.

They are demanding higher pay and better working conditions in under-staffed hospitals. The nurses said they would man emergency wards, intensive care units and maternity wards during the open-ended work stoppage they are now threatening.

Administrative staffs, including technical staff and laboratory workers at two Kupat Holim hospitals were also discussing Sunday a three-day work stoppage to begin Monday. They are also demanding pay increases.

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