Medical Students Refuse to Work, Defy Labor Court Ruling

Keeping in line with the protests throughout the summer, medical students still refuse to work, even in the face of a Labor Court ruling ordering them to do so and risk of arrest.

On Wednesday, the State asked the National Labor Court in Jerusalem to hold a hearing regarding the resignation of hundreds of medical student all over the country.  The Labor Court acquiesced and yesterday afternoon, an urgent discussion between the State and the Israel Medical Association, student representatives and treasury officials occurred under Court President Judge Nili Arad.  The ruling, issued yesterday evening, ordered medical students back to work until this morning, when the matter would be revisited.

Israel has seen a virtual shutdown all off its hospitals and medical services since the summer when numerous doctors and medical students went on strike and submitted resignation letters, citing the low pay and high stress levels associated with their jobs.  The Labor Court ordered 700 doctors back to work at the end of the summer, agreeing with prosecutors who said the absence from work was illegal and was tantamount to mass resignation.  The residents responded by resubmitting resignation letters, most of which would take effect this week.  This time however, the State wants injunctions against any resident who decides to resign.

If the discussions fail this afternoon, most of the hospitals in the Merkaz area of the country will suffer severe understaffing.  Those hospitals include Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, Petah Tikva’s Beilinson, Ramle’s Assaf HaRoref, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, amongst many others.  46 residents of the 362 residents working around the center and northern coastal region of Israel already failed to show up to work this morning.  Some hospitals have informed the public that they should call the hospital or their HMO to find out which services are still functioning at area hospitals.

On Wednesday night, a meeting was held between the Finance Ministry and the other parties in which the Ministry offered a series of major concessions that would satisfy the demands of the other parties, including the students.  However, due to the intransigence of the students, the Ministry decided to retain its previous agreement with the Israel Medical Association.  The three parties will meet again this afternoon to attempt to reach a final agreement.