Labor federation threatens work dispute amid wave of violence against health staff

The head of the Histadrut labor federation threatened on Wednesday to launch a labor dispute in 10 days if actions are not taken to tackle violence against civil servants.

“If in the next 10 days no active and effective measures are taken by government ministries and relevant authorities to eradicate the phenomenon of violence against public servants, I will declare a general labor dispute in the public sector, and every week I will put more and more sectors into solidarity strikes,” Arnon Bar-David warned. “From medical staff and public sector workers to public transportation drivers.”

Bar-David’s remarks came amid a wave of violence against medical professionals, which led the doctors union on Tuesday to announce that staff at public hospitals and clinics would have a work slowdown, operating on a weekend schedule with reduced services for all of Thursday and Friday.

The labor action by healthcare workers was called after police earlier in the day arrested a man who allegedly attacked and wounded a doctor at a community clinic in Be’er Yaakov with a crowbar.

The incident was the latest in a string of acts of violence in hospitals and clinics in recent months.

The strike is the second initiated by the doctors’ union in recent weeks. A labor action was called last month after family members of a patient who died at a Jerusalem hospital attacked medical staff and caused significant damage to an intensive care unit after they were informed of his death.

A photo released by the Health Ministry shows a doctor who was attacked by a patient at a clinic in Beer Yaakov on June 14, 2022 (Health Ministry)

“We have made it clear over the past year unequivocally that any case of violence will be met with zero tolerance on our part,” the chairman of the Israel Medical Association, Prof. Zion Hagay, said on Tuesday.

“The most recent strike led to an important government decision to place police in emergency rooms and allocate the necessary manpower, but we must look solely at how things are implemented on the ground,” he said.

“As long as we do not see real action in the immediate term, we will escalate our actions until someone here wakes up and understands that violence in the health system is a real epidemic.”

The nurses union said Wednesday that it will be joining the strike.

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