IN SHORT

Health care becomes election issue

COALITION and opposition politicians are duelling over a possible strike by health care workers in pursuit of higher wages.

Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda and opposition leader Robert Fico have both called on medical staff not to strike. However, while Fico has appealed to Dzurinda to pay greater attention to the situation in the health care sector, Dzurinda has warned Fico not to politicize the matter, the SME daily wrote.

Slovak doctors are demanding a 20 percent wage increase. Hospital directors say, however, that they do not have the money for the raise. Health care workers have called on the government to solve the dispute.

Dzurinda intends to meet with doctors in Bratislava to discuss the issue next week. He has said that funds are limited, and that hospital directors, rather than the government, are responsible for wages.

Fico, leader of the front-running Smer opposition party, told medical staff to be patient, promising that if Smer is in the next government to emerge from June elections, more money will be released for health care if the budget makes it possible.

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