One-hour Strike Planned for Entire Health System Today

The entire health system - hospitals and community clinics - will shut down at noon tomorrow for one hour, the Histadrut labor federation announced yesterday.

Histadrut Chairman MK Amir Peretz said the strike is being called as a show of solidarity with the 250 pensioners of Bikur Holim Hospital in Jerusalem, who have not received their pension allowances for many months.

"It is unthinkable that after working in the hospital for 40 years, these former workers should end up in the poor house. This is a dangerous precedent that could affect all workers eligible for non-contributory pensions," Peretz said.

Warning that if tomorrow's strike does not result in payment to the Bikur Holim employees, other sectors will also go on strike, Peretz called on the government to find a solution that would ensure ongoing coverage of the pensioners' allowances.

The Bikur Holim management commented: "The retired workers' pensions are delayed due to the hospital's difficult financial situation. We have done our best to use the funds transferred by the government to pay the pensions."

The veteran hospital has been in receivership for the past year and a half, after 21 department directors asked the court to dismantle the Bikur Holim Hospital association, which operated the hospital. Management of the hospital was handed over to an official receiver, attorney Shlomo Shahar.

During the past year attempts to sell the hospital failed, as no buyers could be found.

Workers' committee chairman Roni Amiram said yesterday that in view of the prolonged delays in pension payments, she feared employees would not be paid their wages on time either.