Slovakian nurses to resign amid battle for more pay

Slovakian nurses to resign amid battle for more pay

Nurses recently change tactics as they seek increased pay and instead of protesting in front of the parliament or raising tents in front of the Government’s Office, they have begun handing in their notices. Analysts remain sceptical about the success of the action.

Nearly 1,000 nurses handed in their notices before December 1, and the nurses’ representatives expect more to come. They are dissatisfied with how the Health Ministry has dealt with their demands regarding pay and working conditions. According to them, the ministry did not include their demands into the law on salary conditions of health-care employees adopted by the parliament in late November. Moreover, the new law may only worsen their situation, the nurses’ trade unions said.

Health Minister Viliam Čislák however rejects such claims and says that the salaries will actually increase. The effect of the new law will be seen only next February, when they will receive their January pay.

“If any of the health-care employee shows me that his or her salary is lower than now, I will resign as the health minister,” Čislák told the public-service broadcaster RTVS.

Also the heads of hospitals associated in the Association of State-Run Hospitals promised that the salaries of health-care employees will not fall.

Nurse and Midwives Labour Union head Monika Kavecká however does not understand such guarantees, saying that the nurses are fighting for the salary hike, as reported by the TASR newswire.

Law on salaries disputed

The resignation drive was launched by 200 notices of nurses and midwives in Žilina hospital on November 26. Together 382 of their peers from Prešov hospital followed suit on November 27, while another 92 nurses and midwives resigned in Bojnice hospital (Trenčín Region). A total of 64 nurses and midwives from Louis Pasteur Hospital in Košice handed in their notice on November 30, while 106 resigned from the Faculty Hospital in Trnava and 130 from the hospital in Poprad (Prešov Region).

Though changes will increase the salaries of more 20 occupations working at hospitals, nurses that work in  doctor’s surgeries, spas and social service facilities are excluded. Nurses also demand that factors such as the number of years one has worked in the sector be included in the calculation of one’s pay, and to raise their basic salary every three years of practice, according to the Slovak Chamber of Nurses and Midwives (SKSaPA) statement.

To meet these demands, the Health Ministry would have to allocate about €200 million a year. The ministry however allocated only €55 million for this purpose, the Sme daily wrote.

“I would understand the nurses’ demands if they wanted fairer conditions for rewarding their job, but the demands of the trade unions would only deepen the unfair and ineffective remuneration as well as the operation of hospitals,” Dušan Zachar, analyst with the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO) think tank, told The Slovak Spectator.

The salary conditions should be discussed directly with the hospitals’ management. It should be based on the results and quality of the work done, and not the number of years which may discriminate against younger health-care employees, Zachar added.

Čislák considers the whole protest to be politically motivated as Kavecká said she is considering running for a parliamentary seat come the general election in March 2016. Kavecká has confirmed these ambitions, but stressed that her decision only follows “the years-long ignoring of our demands”, as reported by TASR.

Kavecká then said on December 3 she will not run to stop suspicions of political motivation of the protests.


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