Another storm cloud appeared on the state budget horizon on Tuesday as the Israel Medical Association declared a work dispute in response to a proposed revision of the contract it signed with the Finance Ministry after a prolonged strike in 2001, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“We stand before a struggle of economic decrees expected in the Economic Arrangements Bill that are liable to hurt doctors and endanger public health. We will not allow harm to the contract; public health is not a table in an Excel program,” IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said.
Eidelman said the Treasury’s wage chief did not respond to queries raised by the IMA. “We demand that unilateral moves not be taken by the employers. We expect the Treasury wage chief to preserve existing labor relations and collective agreements.”
Finance Ministry officials have been talking about a number of possible changes, from taxing grants to doctors who go to work in the periphery to limiting the tenure of government hospital directors.
It was unclear the extent of support IMA will get from within the profession, however. The Union of Public Hospital Residents reacted to the IMA’s announcement saying that they would not join a strike without prior consultation with IMA.
“Even though the agreement with the doctors is a bad one and most doctors opposed it,” the union said, “our organization will not agree to any worsening in conditions and any harm to public health. Unfortunately,” declared the organization of rebels against the IMA, “Dr. Eidelman’s and the IMA management’s running of things during the strike, reduced the power of the IMA and its legitimacy in the eyes of physicians. We will not join a strike this time without the IMA consulting and coordinating things with us.”