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Health care strike continues, may even spread

THE STRIKE of hospital employees for higher pay will continue despite a decision by a Bratislava court restricting the right to strike. The legal representative of the medical trade union, Ondrej Škodler, a candidate for the Free Forum opposition party in this year's elections, said that the court injunction cannot be put into practice.

The court ordered six trade union organizations, which are not on strike and which are not even providers of health care services, to ensure that health care is provided to the full extent set by law.

According to the SME daily, the strike will continue and trade unions are preparing a protest rally in front of the building of parliament.

The court, however, claims that its order is regular and executable. According to court chief justice Gabriela Sobolovská, the unions refused to sign for receipt of an envelope containing the court order.

So far, 21 hospitals have joined the strike, according to the unions, which gave the government an ultimatum of until Wednesday evening to start to deal with their demands, or face an even tougher protest.

"If the government does not deal seriously with our demands by the next strike committee meeting on Wednesday, we plan to use all legal means to ensure that the strike has an even harder impact," said Marián Kollár, head of the health care union.

Kollár refused to specify what form of strike he had in mind, but said that one option might be for medical staff simply not to turn up for duty. At the moment, hospitals are at least delivering emergency and acute care.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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