Israeli nurses plan strike despite health crisis

Thousands of Israeli nurses expected to strike this coming Monday, even as a weekend lockdown is expected due to rising coronavirus infections.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s National Nurses Union announced Wednesday a general strike starting Monday, reported Ynet.

The planned strike comes amid rising numbers of coronavirus infections and the government’s intention announced on Thursday to impose a weekend lockdown.

National Nurses Union Chairwoman Ilana Cohen wrote an open letter to the Health Ministry and the heads of the Israeli health maintenance organizations, saying the decision to strike was made “out of national responsibility and in order to prevent the collapse of the nursing system and save human lives.”

“It seems that the Finance Ministry has failed to stand up to the test and is not doing enough to make human lives and health its top priority,” wrote Cohen.

Earlier this week, Cohen requested a meeting with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, whose ministry, she says, did not budget enough to recruit more nurses to the healthcare system.

On Monday, Health Ministry Director General Professor Hezi Levi met with the union’s representatives to prevent a strike, but negotiations stalled and the two sides weren’t able to come to a resolution.

“Unfortunately, we are left with no other choice but to take action before we are forced to deal with the immoral and inhumane choices of who deserves proper treatment and who does not,” wrote Cohen.

“We nurses have decided to take action and utilize the legal means at our disposal to prevent harm and loss of life, and to stop the erosion of our progress against the coronavirus, and to prevent the impending doomsday situation for the public health system.”

The announcement comes after a warning from Cohen earlier this week, who said that striking was “not an empty threat.”

Speaking to Ynet on Monday, she said, “The nurses are collapsing, the system is crashing…The government is abandoning the patients and nurses, and the healthcare system is drained.”

Last month, Israeli nurses officially declared a labor dispute over staffing shortages and heavy workloads. Israeli nurses held a modified strike last July over the same complaints.