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Deal between doctors and government ends protest

THREE days of negotiations, which saw more than a dozen Slovak hospitals work under an emergency regime, ended in an agreement between the cabinet and representatives of the Medical Trade Unions’ Association (LOZ), which promises an early return of over 1,200 doctors to their jobs.

THREE days of negotiations, which saw more than a dozen Slovak hospitals work under an emergency regime, ended in an agreement between the cabinet and representatives of the Medical Trade Unions’ Association (LOZ), which promises an early return of over 1,200 doctors to their jobs.

“After tough and lengthy negotiations we have reached an agreement today,” Prime Minister IvetaRadičová said in the small hours of the morning of December 3 as quoted by the SITA newswire. She added, however, that she is concluding the negotiations “without a smile on her face”, as the price of the agreement was an immense pressure on the dedication of those doctors who remained in their jobs after their protesting colleagues left hospitals on December 1.

“I believe the doctors will now return to their patients,” she continued, as quoted by SITA. Slovak hospitals have been missing doctors after their resignations filed two months ago became effective on December 1. Despite the fact that the government tried to prevent adeficiency of doctors in hospitals by declaring a state of emergency in 15 hospitals, many doctors did not turn up at work on service orders, saying that they had to take sick leave.

Following the agreement with LOZ Radičová wished them to get well soon, according to SITA.

The protest action launched by the LOZ two months ago was intended to enforce their four demands, among them a halt to the transformation of state-run hospitals into joint-stock companies. In the last two weeks of the protest, the only issue blocking the agreement was the salaries of the doctors in state-run hospitals.

The final agreement guarantees the doctors a salary increase in three phases, starting with a first increase to 1.05-1.6 times the average salary in the national economy to reach 1.25-2.3 of the average salary in January 2013, dependent on the level of education of individual doctors. Originally, the doctors demanded an increase to 1.5-3 times the average salary.

LOZ head Marian Kollár said that the signed memorandum holds promise for the future, but added that the salary demands weren’t fulfilled by far and that the memorandum might not stop the exodus of doctors from Slovak hospitals, SITA wrote.

The agreement guarantees that all the doctors who lost their jobs will be able to return to the same positions they held before the protest. The LOZ guarantees that all the doctors will return, but Kollár did not specify exactly when.

The cabinet promised to secure and distribute the new work contracts for the doctorsstraightaway so that doctors can sign them and return to work as soon as possible, but the LOZ advised the doctors not to sign anything before the contracts are checked by lawyers.

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