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Skeleton Staff Replaces Nurses Who Stage Open-ended Strike

Nurses in hospitals throughout Israel who had ended their night shift early Monday morning walked out of the wards and were replaced by even less than a skeleton staff, in an open-ended strike to press for the demands of the hospital nursing staff for their own trades union to represent their special interests.

Doctors on duty tried to stand in for the absent nurses but explained that they were not trained for the special tasks taught in nursing schools. Relatives and friends of the patients abandoned by their nurses tried to help with feeding and washing and generally caring for their family members.

In the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot nearly all patients were sent home by the administration, and throughout the country reports said that half of the beds had been emptied of sick people taken home by relatives.

The Emek Hospital in Afula, struck for three days by the administrative staff, maintained its full complement of nurses in an effort to prevent complete collapse of the institution.

GOVT. REBUFFED BY COURT

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday night ordered five leaders of the hospital nurses group, present in court during the hearing of a government request for back to work orders, to return to work.

But the court noted it could not order the other 11,000 striking nurses back as they were not mentioned in the application and not present in court. Spokesmen for the 11,000 said they would go to prison en masse if necessary rather than give in.

The only hospital departments working more or less normally on Monday were emergency wards, intensive care units, maternity and premature baby departments, and kidney dialysis departments. Only emergency operations were performed Monday.

The Central Committee of the General Nurses Union agreed to a Histadrut demand that they meet Monday evening to discuss demands that the hospital nurses be allowed to set up their own department within the general union. But hospital nurses’ spokesmen said they would not agree to anything less than their own independent union.

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