Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nurses to continue protest

After meetings yesterday between the health ministry and trade unions, medical workers announced that they will stay camped outside the PM offices and continue industrial action in support of higher pay.

“Three out of four demands of the strikers were fulfilled,” Health Minister Zbigniew Religa said. “This is just window-dressing,” retorted nurses after the meeting.

Minister Religa said he evaluated the chance to reach an agreement with the protesting nurses and doctors to be as high as 70 percent. As Religa stressed, out of four nurses’ demands three were fulfilled completely and one partially.

The first demand was to sustain the 30 percent pay rise from the previous year; second – to take the money for the rises from the, so called, second stream, that is - not from the funds given to hospitals for medical services; third – to control the money spent by hospitals’ directors by means of the National Health Fund (NFZ) and the National Labour Inspectorate; fourth – the possibility to use 40 percent of the additional funds given to hospitals by NFZ for salaries.

Leaving the meeting Minister Religa said that there is no chance for pay rises higher than the sustained 30 percent this year.

However, he stressed that there is a possibility to use additional funds from NFZ also for salaries of health service employees.

Trade unions’ representatives agreed to meet on Tuesday for the next round of talks this time concerning the so called collective agreement which would guarantee them the minimum wages in the subsequent years.

“There is a light in a tunnel,” vice-head of the Polish Doctor’s Trade Union (OZZL) Tomasz Underman commented the talks with the Health Minister.

Health care employees’ protests continue throughout the country; more and more doctors go on hunger strike.

Health Minister Zbigniew Religa is to continue talks with various health care trade unions concerning pay rises and ending the protests.