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Court Slams Interns on 'Bad Faith' Resignations

Interns were taken aback as the High Court slammed them for mass resignations from Israeli hospitals.
By David Lev
First Publish: 11/17/2011, 3:19 PM

doctors (illustrative)
doctors (illustrative)
morguefile

Interns and specialists who appealed a decision by the National Labor Court against a decision several weeks ago barring them from mass resignations were taken aback Thursday, as the High Court slammed the manner in which they were seeking to push the state to negotiate a separate deal with them. In a discussion at the High Court Thursday, Judge Dorit Beinisch said that the interns, by continuing to defy the lower court's order and filing mass resignations, were acting in bad faith. “There is a process in the court, and you skipped it, preferring to make your own rules. If negotiations were not going well you were supposed to wait several days before making any moves, and come to today's hearing. Why couldn't you wait?”

The interns in state hospitals were supposed to be covered by a labor agreement that the government signed with doctors' unions in August, but have since claimed that they were not consulted on that deal and were unable to agree to its conditions, because it did not deal with their problems – specifically the extra shifts and extended hours many of them are required to take on, for very low pay. The government has held talks with the interns to see how the situation can be resolved, but has made clear that it will not renegotiate the signed agreement, or sign a separate deal with them.

The court on Thursday sharply criticized the interns' representatives, saying that by submitting mass resignations in protest over conditions, they were trying to make political hay out in a manner that would badly hurt Israelis. “Let's face it,” Benisch said. “The majority of doctors are not interested in leaving their jobs, but in improving conditions. There are things that can be achieved, but accepting these resignations will not solve the problems of the health system, nor help sick people.” Beinisch said that the interns and the Treasury should consider going to an arbitrator to solve the issues separating them. In any even, she added, the Labor Court, not the High Court, was the proper forum for a case like this to be adjudicated.

Meanwhile, interns and specialists continued their resignation campaign Thursday, with many filing their second letter of resignation in as many months. On Thursday afternoon, another dozen interns at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava submitted letters of resignation, bringing the total number who plan to quit their jobs at that facility to 65. So far, about 170 interns around the country have filed letters, but that number is expected to increase dramatically after Thursday's hearing, representatives of the interns said, unless a solid framework for addressing their complaints is immediately formed.