Strike at Clalit Health Services over layoff plans

The health fund faces a NIS 775 million deficit for reasons beyond its control.

The Clalit Health Services national workers secretariat has declared a strike at all Clalit clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals, except for emergency cases, tomorrow to protest the planned laying off of 1,000 employees after Passover. Clalit has 30,000 employees.

Clalit's hospitals are Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson Hospital) in Petah Tikva, Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Hasharon Hospital in Netanya, Ha'Emek Hospital in Afula, Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Carmel Hospital in Haifa, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, Yoseftal Hospital in Eilat, Beit Rivka geriatric hospital in Petah Tikva, Herzfeld Hospital in Gedera, Geha Psychiatric Hospital, Shalvata Mental Health Center in Hod Hasharon, and Talbiye Hospital.

Clalit Health Services workers committee chairman Prof. Ben Hamo said that no layoff would occur without his consent, and slammed Clalit Health Services CEO Eli Defes. Ben Hamo said, "Clalit Health Services isn't a factory that closes a production line. On the contrary, the more production lines closed, the greater demand for health services. The layoffs trend that the CEO has climbed on is irresponsible."

He added that every worker less is another patient at risk.

Clalit Health Services' announcement of the planned layoffs also may have been geared to get the Ministry of Finance to open its til a bit. The announcement may be seen as a cynical maneuver to exploit the wave of layoffs, but the reality at the health fund is complex.

Clalit Health Services is forced to spend hundreds of millions of shekels this year for reasons beyond its control, which are expected to result in a deficit of NIS 775 million by the end of the year. These expenses included government-mandated retroactive pay hikes of a cumulative 24%, which cost it NIS 480 million, while the Ministry of Finance agreed to finance salary increases of just 5%. Nurses also won a 10% pay hike, which will cost Clalit NIS 120 million, and the government raised hospitalization rates by 5%, which will cost Clalit NIS 150 million.

Clalit said in response, "Clalit's employees, as full partners for our successes as well as the serious difficulties that we are in, must contribute to the implementation of streamlining measures, give more, and forego some things. That is how we may be able to succeed in moderating the scope of the layoffs. Regrettably, our proposals were rejected by the workers committee."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 25, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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