TEL AVIV (Aug. 2)
A strike by the Magen David Adom was called off at the last moment Tuesday, after the Finance Ministry paid more than a half million dollars to the MDA management to enable it to pay July salaries.
The money was transferred to the MDA, Israel’s first-aid and paramedic organization, literally a minute or two before noon, the time at which the organization’s employees said they would walk off their jobs, if their salaries were not paid.
The strike would have halted ambulance services and closed blood banks and first aid stations nationwide.
The MDA workers used a similar tactic last month, when they halted all services for 36 hours, because of failure to pay their June salaries. Israelis customarily receive paychecks on the first day of each month for the previous month.
The Health Ministry protested the fact that the Treasury paid the money directly to the MDA management and then announced it was debiting the sum against the Health Ministry budget.
Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino, who has been feuding with Finance Minister Moshe Nissim over the health budget for some time now, protested that her ministry’s budget is earmarked for other specific purposes, including nurses’ salaries. She said the MDA budget should be a separate item for the Treasury.
Nissim has claimed that the MDA is inefficient and that its budget should not be covered until it dismisses many employees and reduces the number of first-aid stations by consolidating neighboring stations.