Nurses to camp in front of Government Office

NURSES and midwives will raise their tents in front of the Government Office on October 2 to protest against the Constitutional Court’s verdict that deems the law granting them higher salaries unconstitutional, as well as other problems they face in their work. The demonstration will last three days, the SITA newswire reported on October 1.

NURSES and midwives will raise their tents in front of the Government Office on October 2 to protest against the Constitutional Court’s verdict that deems the law granting them higher salaries unconstitutional, as well as other problems they face in their work. The demonstration will last three days, the SITA newswire reported on October 1.

“We decided on this step after careful consideration, as an expression of [our] will not to be a passive group of medical employees which are expected to grumble a bit, and than to bend their backs,” said head of the Trade Unions of Nurses and Midwives (OZSaPA) Monika Kavecká, as quoted by SITA.

One of the factors that influenced their decision to protest was Health Minister Zuzana Zvolenská’s comment during their last meeting on September 25 that there is no money for raising nurses’ salaries. They also disagree with the amendment to the Criminal Code, which criminalises health-care workers for not coming to work during a government-issued crisis.

The protest will not be a mass action, said head of the Slovak Chamber of Nurses and Midwives (SKSaPA) Iveta Lazorová, stressing that they want to resolve the situation. Though negotiations were constructive, it seems that was not the right way, as reported by SITA.

In addition to camping outside the Government Office, the nurses will organise a protest march in front of the Constitutional Court in Košice.

Nurses expect the protests to result in the allocation of more money for the health-care sector and better redistribution of resources that are already in the sector, SITA wrote.

The Constitutional Court accepted, during a non-public proceeding held on June 19, the complaint filed by the Office of the General Prosecutor in July 2012, which subsequently prevented the new law from going into effect. It was initiated by the Slovak Medical Chamber, which disputed the constitutionality of the law. Four of the justices, Ľudmila Gajdošíková, Peter Brňák, Milan Ľalík and Rudolf Tkáčik, offered a dissenting opinion, the TASR newswire reported.

The new legislation, passed by parliament in February 2012, following negotiations between the SKSaPA and the government, was to prevent the salaries of nurses and midwives from falling under a certain level. The minimum starting salary for a nurse or midwife without practical experience was to be at least €640 a month, which would increase over the next three years to reach €666 per month. A nurse’s minimum salary was then supposed to increase every three months until it reaches €928 after 33 years of work experience.

The prosecutor’s office argued before the court that the law was unconstitutional because it covered only certain health-care workers, nurses and midwives, and that there was a lack of authorised funds available to pay the higher minimum salaries. Moreover, the prosecutor’s office also mentioned an analysis by the Health Ministry, according to which some nurses might have received higher salaries than the doctors working in the same clinic, TASR reported.

Representatives of nurses and midwives responded with a series of protests held in front of parliament as well as the Constitutional Court.

Source: SITA, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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