After Three Days, Israeli Hospital Staffers Suspend Strike for Talks

The strikes, which protest intolerably high workloads, will be suspended for 45 days in exchange for negotiations with top health and finance ministry officials

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A healthcare worker walks through Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel
A healthcare worker walks through Tel Hashomer hospital in IsraelCredit: Hadas Parush
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

A strike by 13,000 support workers at Israel’s government hospitals was suspended after three days Thursday, for 45 days, after Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz promised to handle the negotiations on their contracts vis-a-vis the Finance Ministry and prioritize their demands.

Administrative and housekeeping employees walked off the job Tuesday to protest what they say are intolerably high workloads, an ongoing personnel shortage and the elimination of 200 positions added during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Negotiations have not begun, and union representatives met with an aide to Horowitz Thursday, for the first time.

Patients and doctors were affected by the brief strike, with garbage and dirty laundry piling up, causing one hospital official to warn that the situation could soon put patients at risk.

The strike included auxiliary workers such as cleaners, dieticians, kitchen staff and hospital transport services. Outpatient clinics shut and non-urgent operations were postponed.

Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz issued an order Thursday suspending the 200 job cuts, a move he said was coordinated with the Finance Ministry.

Eli Badash, the head of the union representing the striking workers, said the workers would agree to the decision “providing these workers are directly employed by the hospitals, rather than by a contractor who makes money at their expense.”

Badash said the move consists of rehiring some of the employees who had been added to the staffs during the corona year and that the system is still short of about 1,000 employees.

The strike included over 20 state hospitals, including psychiatric, rehabilitation and geriatric facilities. During the strike administrative, maintenance, cleaning, kitchen and auxiliary services were halted, with the exception of urgent medical services.

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