Striking lab technicians will demonstrate at Prime Minister’s Residence

Written by on September 1, 2020

The lab technicians have continued to carry out coronavirus tests but are only reporting on those that are positive.

Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020. (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)

Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020.

(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)

Lab technicians who are on strike for a third day will protest at Prime Minister Benjaimin Netanyahu’s residence on Tuesday at 5 pm to demand that the prime minister intervene to bring their walkout to a swift conclusion.

“I apologize to the general public for this difficult and terrible strike and to my colleagues in the health care system. Unfortunately, we have no choice. I no longer have words to describe how detached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers, Israel Katz and others, are from the people,” said Esther Admon, chair of the Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers.

“I am aware that the system is crashing. This is the third day of our strike, it has been an unprecedented event… The indifference and disregard of the prime minister and his ministers is outrageous. Beyond words. I understand with sorrow that there is no leadership in Israel.”

      

Representatives of the striking workers released a statement criticizing how the government has poured funding into private labs, saying that, “If the government had invested even only 10% of the NIS 4 billion allocated to the private laboratories, there would have been no reason to strike… We decided to go demonstrate at Balfour because we have no choice.”

Earlier in the day, technicians voiced their despair over the situation in Facebook posts and WhatsApp chat groups.

“In short, I do not understand what all the fuss is about… You wanted corona tests at all costs, only corona is important …. etc. So here corona tests were hardly damaged in the strike,” wrote Moshe Levy, a technician at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba on his Facebook page.

The lab technicians have continued to carry out coronavirus tests but are only reporting on those that are positive, and are also testing in emergency and trauma wards, where the tests can be life-saving.

But Levy expressed anger that no one seems to care that the routine day-to-day work of lab technicians is not going forward as usual.

“Let the hospitals finally crash the day after tomorrow. Who cares about the old woman in the ward Who cares about the elderly… they are not corona patients who will die then… It is impossible to make a headline out of them.”

On Monday, negotiations between striking lab technicians in Israel and the Finance Ministry broke down with no agreement and the technicians. Admon blamed officials from the Finance Ministry on Monday for the lack of progress in the negotiations, according to a report on the Globes website.

Some 2,000 lab workers from public hospitals and Clalit Health Services went on strike Sunday morning after negotiations between the country’s public labs and the Finance Ministry broke down last week.

The lab workers had announced their intention to strike two weeks ago.

On Sunday, Admon said she wrote a letter to the Finance Ministry over the weekend, calling on them to come back to the negotiating table out of responsibility to the public.

“I did not receive an answer all weekend,” but on Sunday, the lab workers were called back to the table, “probably due to media” attention the issue received, she said.

The Finance Ministry is “disconnected, sending unrealistic responses to the media that we have been offered proper proposals, and it is a pity that we did not respond positively,” Admon said. “If we do not go to war, we will continue to risk human lives every day,” she added.

The Finance Ministry on Sunday said in a statement: “Generous offers were made but rejected. We regret that despite the agreement signed with the lab workers and the significant raises we gave them for processing coronavirus tests, the association is choosing to take advantage of the situation and go on strike at a time that is very sensitive, both in terms of economics and in terms of public health. We are willing to go back to the negotiating table at any time and call on the Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers to join the fight.”

The average salary of senior lab workers is higher than what the workers say it is, NIS 18,121 a month, the Finance Ministry said in a report, according to N12. Junior workers make an average of NIS 11,500, according to the report.

But the striking workers have not been appeased by anything they have heard so far from Finance Ministry officials.

“Do you know what’s most delusional?” wrote Levy. “The Treasury (and the truth is that also the media) has not internalized that hospitals do not collapse because of a lack of corona tests… They collapse because of a lack of all the other services labs provide.” He said he would not stay in the profession if the workers’ demands were not met.

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