Palestinian medical workers yesterday called off a strike after reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority a day earlier. The move means hospitals in East Jerusalem can remain open.
A dispute over overdue payments and salaries between staff at Al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital and the PA meant the hospital faced closure, with workers saying they would no longer accept patients except in emergency cases until the issue had been resolved.
The Health Ministry owes the hospital some 6.7 million shekels ($2 million) for three months’ salaries and a total of 65 million shekels of debt ($19.7 million), according to the hospital’s administration.”The rest of our staff demands will be discussed with the Finance Minister, Shukri Bishara, right after Eid Al-Fitr,” the head of the hospital workers’ union, Samir Qaddoumi told Ma’an News Agency.
The hospital employees were scheduled to start a sit-in at the ministry’s headquarters in Ramallah yesterday, in protest at the administration’s failure to pay the salaries of the hospital’s staff and workers.
Al-Makassed has long warned that it faces closure due to the rising debts, in particular as a result of the PA’s outstanding payments for the cost of treatment for patient referrals from the West Bank and Gaza.
On Monday evening, Al-Makassed agreed that the PA’s Ministry of Health would pay 80 per cent of April’s salaries to the hospital’s workers and 20 per cent of the unpaid three months’ wages before 2 May.
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