Health care workers are set to resume negotiations on a new collective agreement with the government on Tuesday.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have been protesting in front of hospitals for the past week to call attention to their demands for better working conditions and higher pay. The protests have been organized at a small number of different hospitals each day. In Zagreb and Vinkovci hospital staff stood outside carrying picket signs aimed at sending a message to the government.
"The talks resume tomorrow. I hope that the government, our minister, will give us what we are most interested in, and that's a concrete offer. I hope they've snapped out of it and are coming with some kind of calculation," said Brankica Grgurić, the head of the Nurses and Medical Technicians Union.
Unions and the government initialed a deal for a 7 percent raise last year, but it was never enacted. Now, they are asking for more.
"We didn’t ask for 7 percent, we asked for 30 percent. Bulgaria and Romania could give 20 and 30 percent, and our government is reluctant to give 7 percent. How much money have they saved on us over not over one decade, but over five or six. The debt just keeps growing as does the pressure on us."
Health care workers are also asking for better working conditions, as union representative Anita Soloumun points out.
"The system is flawed. There's a lot of neglect and it is just a matter of time before we all decide to leave. We work a lot of hours and we are ok with that, but we want to be recognized and valued for the work that we do."
Unions plan to continue the protests in front of hospitals around the country all week. Health Minister Milan Kujundžić has pledged to present unions with an offer this week, but he said it would be within the government's means. He says he's confident a deal will be reached.
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