Nurses, administrative and maintenance staff employed by Hadassah Medical Center received the second half of their January salaries on Sunday – wages the financially strapped health institute had failed to pay earlier this month. Nonetheless, the workers say that due to announced pay cuts, they will not call off the labor sanctions that have seriously disrupted operations at Hadassah’s two Jerusalem hospitals.
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Last week, the administration of the medical center – owned by the New York-based Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America – received 90-days’ protection from creditors in the face of a gaping deficit. During the course of the past week, its hospitals – Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, and Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus – have been on Shabbat or emergency schedule footing periodically as a result of walkouts by staff.
The chairwoman of Hadassah’s nurses’ committee, Tsila Gera, said Sunday that nursing staff would not be calling off their sanctions. She said they are still protesting the fact that, in a letter to employees, the hospital’s director general, Avigdor Kaplan, announced salary cuts in conjunction with the current court proceedings for employees earning more than 10,000 shekels ($2,850) per month.
The letter, which was coordinated with Lipa Meir and Asher Axelrod (the court-appointed trustees in the case), laid out a sliding scale of wage cuts, ranging from a 5 percent reduction for staff earning between 10,000 and 15,000 shekels per month; 14.5 percent cuts for those whose monthly pay is between 30,000 and 40,000; and 22.5 percent for those earning more than 90,000 shekels per month.
In his letter, Kaplan also announced that administrative and maintenance staff would no longer get supplemental pay for being on special standby footing, which is expected to result in major salary cuts for some employees.
Thousands of nursing and maintenance workers stopped working for three hours Sunday, to attend a protest meeting in a courtyard. They left just a skeleton staff on duty.
Avi Nissenkorn, the trade union division head of the Histadrut labor federation, told the gathering that his organization had no objection to a recovery plan for the hospitals, but would not countenance unilateral salary cuts imposed by the Hadassah administration. Further staff protests planned for Monday are expected to require the hospitals to once again operate with a reduced staff.
In another development, the medical center’s management is seeking to negotiate a cut in the severance package provided to its former director general, Shlomo Mor-Yosef. The current arrangement provides Mor-Yosef, 63, with monthly payments of 75,000 shekels until age 67.
Over the weekend, Mor-Yosef told Channel 2 TV that, given the current difficult circumstances at the medical center, he was prepared to discuss an “adjustment” to his severance package.