Hadassah Hospital management and employees signed a deal early Wednesday morning to break the stalemate over unpaid January salaries and get doctors and nurses back to work after two weeks.
Most hospital workers and nurses went back to work Wednesday morning, although doctors were still working a reduced weekend schedule. The two sides agreed that employees who earn less than NIS 15,000 per month won’t receive pay cuts and will receive the remainder of their unpaid salaries. Also, summonses issued to more than 300 employees for a hearing before termination were frozen.
Hadassah chairman Avigdor Kaplan said after the deal was inked with the administrative employees and nurses that the task that remained was “to convince the doctors to join as well.”
The Jerusalem district court heard arguments Wednesday morning about Hadassah doctors’ liability and insurance. According to Israel Radio, doctors are currently refusing to return to work out of fear that they will personally be exposed to lawsuits by patients suing for damages, after the hospital itself received a court-ordered stay of proceedings that protects it from having to pay out for lawsuits.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of Hadassah hospital employees in Jerusalem hunkered down to spend the night in the Ein Kerem Hospital lobby in protest over their delayed January salaries.
Workers, whose open-ended strike was in its fourteenth day, said they would not leave the premises until the issue was resolved.
“We will hole up here until further notice. Starting tomorrow no administrator will be able to enter,” Amnon Baruchyan, chairman of the hospital’s housekeeping and administrative staff, told Ynet.
“The current act of protest calls for waking up the Hadassah administration and serves as a last wake-up call to the Finance Ministry,” a statement from the Histadrut labor union read. “All of the Hadassah administration statements from the past few days regarding full payment to workers are incorrect and their aim is to create a false impression.”
Nurses and non-medical staff at the Hadassah hospitals walked off the job for three hours in protest Sunday, as the financial crisis surrounding the institution worsened amid claims that the government had botched its end of the affair.
Employees of the two Hadassah medical centers had warned that they would intensify their strike after talks to defuse the financial crisis in which the institutions are embroiled ended without an agreement Thursday.
The employees announced Friday that the hospitals would continue operating on an emergency basis, performing only life-saving operations and distributing medicine, pending the resumption of negotiations between the trade unions, the Hadassah workers’ union and hospital directors.
Administrative and medical staff at the Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus hospitals went on strike last week after the were only given partial pay for January. On Wednesday, they intensified their strike, announcing that emergency care would function with a scaled-down crew and most of the hospital’s daily operations would be shut down, or carried out on limited “Shabbat schedules,” in protest.
The hospitals, administered by the Hadassah NGO, are some NIS 1.3 billion ($370 million) in debt. The government has offered NIS 50 million ($14.2 million) in bailout funds, to be matched by Hadassah, but the sides have yet to come to an agreement.
The Jerusalem District Court decided last week to grant the hospital administration’s request for a stay of proceedings, temporarily protecting them from creditors, and to appoint two trustees to formulate a rehabilitation plan for the hospitals.