ON MARCH 28, Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda discussed the problems of the Slovak health care sector with medical staff at Bratislava's Ružinov Hospital, where, just a few weeks ago, he himself was treated after breaking his leg.
The meeting took place after the Doctors' Trade Union (LOZ) and several other medical labour unions threatened to strike for higher wages for health care employees, and demanded that the Slovak government address the issue.
In a heated atmosphere, the PM spent about three hours with the doctors trying to communicate the need for the reforms that were carried out in the health care sector over the last four years. He also said that higher salaries could only be achieved through "continuous economic growth and some cost-saving measures".
According to the TASR news agency, more than 1,000 doctors came to the meeting with Dzurinda.
The PM said he was aware of the situation in health care but was unable to help doctors and nurses in their dissatisfaction with their wages.
Dzurinda said the protesters should have raised their voices earlier when the country's state budget was being prepared, a statement that drew loud booing from the crowd.
At the end of the meeting, some doctors even threw their gowns at the stage where the PM was sitting to show their discontent with his message.
Doctors and other medical staff are demanding a 20-25 percent wage rise after five years of no increases.
State authorities insist that health care employees must negotiate wage increases with their respective hospital directors rather than with the Health Ministry or the government.
- Spectator staff
3. Apr 2006 at 0:00