The Tel Aviv District Labor Court decided late on Tuesday night to reject the State’s request to issue an injunction against striking nurses. The decision means the strike will continue on Wednesday and enter its tenth day.
District Court President Judge Efrat Laxer listened to the arguments from both sides and decided to reject the request. State officials argued that the timing of the strike, so close to an election, prevents the Treasury from making a significant change to the budget with regard to nurses, but Laxer rejected the argument and allowed the nurses to continue the strike.
At the same time, negotiations with the Treasury will continue in an attempt to reach an agreement and resolve the crisis.
The nurses are protesting the lack of negotiations over a request to increase their salaries and to make nursing a “national priority” profession in order to attract more people to the profession.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Laxer admonished the Finances Ministry's wages commissioner, Kobi Amsalem, saying, “If you cannot negotiate something real and are offering something minor because of the election, why would you want to prevent nurses from their elementary right to organizational measures? We expect the State to be more flexible in this situation.”
The talks between the sides broke down after the Treasury refused to approve an across the board salary hike for all nurses, regardless of seniority. The nurses, who see this is an elementary demand, refused to continue to talk with the Treasury.
On Tuesday, MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari said the nurses’ strike is nothing but a political issue, and the issue in this case is the government's reluctance to collect taxes from Israeli Arabs.
“According to forecasts by the Treasury and the Bank of Israel, the government is going to have to cut the state budget by NIS 15 billion (about $4 billion) immediately after the elections,” the MKs said in a statement. The cuts will be necessary in order to ensure that Israel retains its stellar international credit rating, and its good standing in the International Monetary Fund, which reportedly has already warned Israel that it must cut public spending, or face the wrath of international investors.
As such, Israel certainly does not have the money it needs to pay nurses what they rightly deserve, the MKs said – but that shortfall, and much more, could easily be made up if the government began to collect taxes from Israeli Arabs. “It is time that the government use its authority to ensure that all Israeli citizens follow the law,” the MKs said.