Negotiations Fail as Doctors Storm Out of Meeting With Finance Ministry

Finance Ministry tells doctors they will shorten shifts to 22 hours and add 160 shifts, but doctors say this move is just the implementation of a program already agreed upon last year.

Representatives of the Histadrut labor federation stormed out of a meeting with the Finance Ministry Thursday after negotiations proved fruitless for the doctors.

The parties met at the Tel Aviv labor court to continue discussing a draft to decrease the duration and number of shifts that specialist doctors are required to work.

Doctors strike protest
Motti Milrod

During Sunday's discussions the Histadrut representatives discovered that the Finance Ministry had reached an agreement with the Health Minister to implement a program whereby shifts would be shortened to 22 hours and 160 shifts would be added. However, the government had already agreed to implement the program, initiated by Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, last year. The doctors say their demands were originally intended to reinforce the periphery.

The doctors walked out of the discussions in protest and negotiations broke down.

The next discussion in the labor court is currently scheduled for Sunday evening. A comprehensive meeting is scheduled for this afternoon at the Israel Medical Association in Ramat Gan where the heads of the association will meet with managers of public hospitals. The IMA intends to reach a decision by the end of the meeting regarding steps that will be taken in protest of this morning's meeting.

The Finance Ministry said in response that "the government came to a decision to add shifts to improve the standard of medicine in the periphery. We believe that it will be possible to reach an understanding and come to an agreement in the coming days."