Medical residents
Medical residents demonstrating in Tel Aviv. Photo by Moti Milrod
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The medical residents fighting the collective agreement signed by the Israel Medical Association and the Finance Ministry two weeks ago were joined on Wednesday by 120 senior physicians from hospitals nationwide, who called to revoke the agreement.

The number of medical residents resubmitting their resignations rose to 420 on Wednesday, after the National Labor Court ruled on Sunday that their original resignations constituted an illegal collective action.

Meanwhile, the 120 senior physicians - department heads from hospitals across the country - gathered in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital on Tuesday night to examine ways of thwarting the collective agreement and called for IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman to resign.

The doctors drafted a call to revoke the agreement with Finance Ministry, support the residents and continue giving hospitals in the periphery preferential treatment and greater benefits.

"We decided at the meeting that any benefit achieved for doctors in the central region must be granted - with an addition - to doctors in the periphery," Professor Zvi Klein, chairman of the Meir Hospital doctors' union, said on Wednesday.

All the doctors at the meeting signed membership forms for the alternative physicians' union set up a few days ago.

At this point, however, they do not intend to quit the IMA, and will do so only if the new union achieves similar benefits to those given IMA members, including professional and medical insurance, and if the new union is joined by more than half the doctors in the IMA.

By law, for this to happen, at least half of the IMA's 20,000-plus members would have to switch unions.

The senior doctors also discussed ways of replacing the IMA leadership in elections when Eidelman's term ends in 2013.

Several doctors spoke out heatedly against having physicians use time clocks, one of the stipulations in the collective agreement that is sparking outrage among senior physicians.

Eidelman said he has no intention of resigning in response to doctors' discontent over the collective agreement.

On Wednesday Health Ministry Director General Ronni Gamzu met with medical residents from hospitals in the center of the country, including Ichilov, to hear about their grievances regarding the agreement.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman suggested a compromise, in which the residents would receive additional pay rises and another 1,500 doctors' positions would be added to the public health system. However, the Finance Minister objected.

The largest number of residents' resignations, 140, were submitted at Ichilov Hospital, followed by 70 in Meir Hospital; 62 in Sheba; 59 in Rambam; 38 in Beilinson, 23 in Schneider Children's Medical Center; 16 in Wolfson; and 12 in Assaf Harofeh.

The number of resubmitted resignations is less than half of the 1,067 residents who resigned a month ago. Residents said they are resubmitting the letters gradually - to avoid any appearance of an organized move that could be revoked by a court of law.