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Health union reconsiders wage demand

UNIONISTS in the health-care sector are starting to recognise the impact of the global economic and financial crisis. Until recently they had been demanding a 10 percent increase in wages, but have now said they are ready to modify their requirements.

UNIONISTS in the health-care sector are starting to recognise the impact of the global economic and financial crisis. Until recently they had been demanding a 10 percent increase in wages, but have now said they are ready to modify their requirements.

“Everything will depend on negotiations with the representatives of hospitals,” said Anton Szalay, the chairman of the Slovak Health Care and Social Services Union. However, he added that members will not allow their wages to be cut.

“They should definitely match at least the inflation rate,” Szalay was quoted as saying by the SITA newswire.

Unionists say they recognise that if a lot of people lose jobs, the revenues of health insurance companies will decline and it will not be possible to increase payments to hospitals as had been expected.

Union representatives have been negotiating with health-care facilities over pay for several months. Wages in part of the health sector were increased by 10 percent last year after the union and faculty hospitals agreed on a wage hike beginning on February 1, 2008.

The situation with smaller health-care facilities was more complicated since the Association of Hospitals repeatedly declared it did not have enough money for higher wages, referring to low payments from health insurance companies.

The bargaining was then moved to a mediator and finally to an arbitration panel last May. Arbitration finally led to a 7 percent wage increase from the beginning of June 2008 for employees of these facilities.

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