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State Warns of Collective Bargaining Collapse If Interns Win

The fight of interns for higher wages than specified in the collective bargaining agreement has reached the high court
By Aryeh ben Hayim
First Publish: 10/25/2011, 7:22 PM

The crisis in the Israeli medical system is reaching a boiling point as the petition of the interns is being discussed at the High Court of Justice. The interns are asking the court to vacate an order by the Israel Labor Court preventing a mass resignation by the interns from going into effect. If the interns win the hospitals in Central Israel face chaos.

The state has responded to the to the petition and claims that the restraining order should  remain in effect because the mass resignation "should be examined on its essence rather than according to the disguise that the parties are attempting to provide it with… Every action leading to organized disturbance of labor relations is an effective strike."

The state warns that the mass resignation would set "a dangerous precedent for labor relations in the civil service and for the public sector in its entirety… We are not dealing with the struggle for the future of public health, but with the demand for raising the salaries of physicians in central Israel.

The workers have attempted to receive public sympathy when they appeared in handcuffs and dressed in hospital gowns bearing the slogan "the State is fighting for its health" they were supported by the Israel Students Organization and representatives of the social workers who recently won a wage increase. The interns have also compared their situation to that of the recently released staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit.

The state warns that if the demands of the interns are granted this will lead to anarchy in the collective bargaining system. The interns are refusing to respect an agreement reached by their own representatives --the Israel Medical Association.

Attorney Kobi Amsalem representing the Ministry of Finance stated "we find ourselves for the third time facing a measure by the interns who are acting against a court order. Everything is geared to a single purpose --reopening the collective agreement.… should the collective resignation be accepted this will mark the end of all the collective agreements and this will be a mortal blow for organized labor.