Medical residents, mass resignation
Medical residents at an emergency conference at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava Wednesday Oct, 5, 2011. Photo by Hadar Cohen
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More than 200 medical residents refused to report for work at hospitals across Israel on Monday, renewing their struggle against Israel’s Labor Court decision to cancel their previous collective resignation.

The collective decision forced several orthopedic outpatient clinics to close for the day and left doctors in the emergency room under immense pressure.

The Health Ministry responded harshly to the residents’ decision to resign by compiling a list of all those who refused to come to work, in order to implement legal disciplinary procedures against them.

According to a statement released by the Health Ministry, the absence of the residents from hospitals during ongoing discussions in the Supreme Court is considered “a disciplinary offense as well as contempt of court,” and that negotiations are the “only way to solve the current crisis.”

It is still unclear whether the steps taken by the residents are considered legal, and the attorney general is likely to turn to Israel’s High Court of Justice in order to clarify the matter.

The resignation comes only weeks after a group of six residents petitioned the High Court of Justice after the National Labor Court invalidated the original resignations of hundreds of residents who were dissatisfied with the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Finance Ministry and the Israel Medical Association in August. The residents and the treasury were ordered to negotiate for up to two weeks and on November 10 they are to present the court with a report on their progress.

Justice Hanan Melcer ordered the sides to negotiate quickly and stay focused and deal only with matters concerning residents and not other doctors, such as improving conditions for specialists. The justice ordered the treasury to also discuss the residents' demands to reopen the new agreement, which Finance Ministry officials had refused to do under any circumstances.

Melcer also made it clear that any resident who wished to resubmit a resignation without any conditions related to salary or other work conditions would be allowed to do so.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: יותר מ-200 מתמחים לא התייצבו לעבודה