5 Percent Salary Hike Fails to Bring Doctors Back to Work

The Cabinet approved a 5 percent salary increase for public hospital doctors Sunday, but it failed to end the health care crisis.

The doctors rejected the offer, even before the ministers voted, and continued to apply their work sanctions region by region against government hospitals and those of Kupat Holim, the Histadrut health care agency.

They were joined by the nurses union, which complained its wage demands were being ignored and began hunger strikes in protest.

In northern Israel, striking hospital pharmacists shut down their dispensaries.

The 5 percent hike was proposed late last week by Premier Yitzhak Shamir, over vehement objections by Finance Minister Moshe Nissim. Nissim said he would consider resigning if he failed to persuade the Cabinet of his position.

The ministers voted 18-3 for the increase, without discussing Nissim’s appeal. It was not immediately known whether the finance minister would carry through with his threat.

The additional pay for doctors was intended to compensate them for working a second shift in operating rooms. It was urgently needed to reduce the long wait for non-emergency surgery.

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