The wage negotiations between representatives of the doctors and the Treasury hit another stalemate Wednesday.
As the disruptions in the health system enter their 108th day, doctors and residents in hospitals across Israel again walked out in the middle of their shifts, in protest of the failed wage talks, which they say will reduce employment conditions to "slavery," should they come to pass.
Doctors at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center staged an organized walkout, and began marching towards the Israel Medical Association building in Tel Aviv.
The protesters were shouting "Bibi, don't kill the public health system."
Doctors at the Shalvata, Geha, Ness Ziona and Eitanim psychiatric hospitals staged a similar move, and a mass walkout was also noted at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Zerifin, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Raan.
A statement by some 600 physicians announced that they were no longer interested in having the Israel Medical Association represent them, and have formed a new body – "Mirsham" (Hebrew for "prescription").
The new organization still needs an additional 400 members to be recognized by authorities as a legal professional union.
Doctors marching to IMA building in Tel Aviv (Photo: Amir Levy)
"If the agreement is not revised we will take our protest to the next level," a doctor outside Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba told Ynet. "The government is dismissive of us and is trying to humiliate us. We'll fight to the end." He did not elaborate on any future measures.
Some doctors said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who also serves as the acting health minister, was directly to blame for the situation. They blasted Netanyahu for "not bothering to talk to us even once throughout the entire strike."
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman rejected the doctors' claims, saying that their actions have "scared the IMA off signing the agreement."
Still, Litzman told Army Radio that the negotiations were nearing their end, "But for some reason (the doctors) want to revisit some of the issues. I don't know why. The Treasury doesn’t want that. The Treasury has already compromised."
Litzman said he believed an agreement will be signed in a few days time.
The doctors said they planned to stage a protest rally across from the Knesset on Thursday, adding that the protests measures will not stop until Netanyahu funnels the budgets necessary for the public health system's recovery.
The National Labor Court is expected to rule Wednesday on the State's request for injections against the strike. The court may order both parties to begin arbitration.
Boaz Fyler, Hassan Shaalan, Hagai Einav , Shmulik Hadad, Sivan Raviv, Aviel Magnezi, Itay Gal and Meital Yasur-Beit Or contributed to this report