A nurse at Labor Court
A nurse at Labor CourtIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israel’s nurses will begin an open-ended strike as of Monday morning, after last minute talks to prevent one failed.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, representatives of the Finance Ministry met with representatives of the Nurses' Federation, but after seven hours of talks the sides announced that no agreements had been reached.

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 the strike, nurses in all of the country's hospitals and in the community clinics of Clalit Health Services will work using skeleton staff, causing non-urgent surgeries to be postponed. Delays are expected at hospitals during the strike.

"We do not want a strike but the government pushed the nurses towards one,” the Head of the Nurses' Federation, Ilana Cohen, told Channel 2 News on Sunday night.

"I suggest that all Israeli citizens enter the hospitals and see patients lying in the corridors like homeless people because there are not enough nurses,” she said. “This should be the first thing on the Israeli agenda. We struggled for two years to prevent the impossible workload in the various hospitals. The Finance Ministry signed an agreement with us but in fact nothing was done. Instead of making the profession attractive they are pushing the nurses to strike."

The Finance Ministry said in response, “Even after negotiations that lasted 6.5 hours, the Nurses’ Federation insists on starting an illegal and unjustified strike. Significant offers were made to the Nurses’ Federation, but unfortunately it seems that the Federation has decided to strike in any case, at the expense of the patients.”

The Finance Ministry noted that the strike is illegal because the Nurses' Federation had committed not to take any strike actions at least until the expirty of their collective bargaining agreement at the end of December.