Hadassah workers to intensify strike next week

Hadassah workers to intensify strike next week

Major Jerusalem hospitals operating on emergency basis over weekend after talks fail; health minister to probe crisis

Workers of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem protest outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, February 10, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Workers of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem protest outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday, February 10, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Employees of the two Hadassah medical centers in Jerusalem threatened to intensify their strike over salaries from Sunday 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 throughout the weekend, performing only life-saving operations and distributing medicine, pending the resumption of negotiations between the trade unions, the Hadassah workers’ union and hospital directors. They added that if their salaries were not paid in full, they would intensify their strike, possibly abandoning their departments on Sunday.

Administrative and medical staff at the Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus hospitals went on strike last week after not receiving their full pay. 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 were still in a state of disarray Friday following a Jerusalem District Court decision this 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.

The decision was a victory for the medical centers. For the next 90 days, they will be able to continue operations under their current management, led by current director Dr. Avigdor Kaplan, but their creditors will not be able to collect on any debts. Hospital employees will, on average, receive 90 percent of their salaries.

However, following the decision administrative and medical staff intensified their strikes and were only performing emergency procedures on Wednesday.

“We’re prepared to sit down and negotiate tonight, but we won’t do it so long as the full salaries of the workers haven’t been paid,” Ilana Cohen, head of the nurses’ union, was quoted by Maariv saying.

Meanwhile Friday, Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) announced a probe of the crisis, headed by former Finance Ministry budgeting official Avi Gabai.

“The severe crisis in which Hadassah is embroiled requires a thorough investigation,” German said in a statement.

“It is essential to identify the problems and difficulties at the heart of the processes that led to the crisis,” she added.

She said the committee would not only probe the ongoing crisis, but also work to monitor hospitals around Israel to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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