Health care workers and the government could not reach an agreement this week on the pay hike unions are demanding.
The sides are set to enter another round of talks on Wednesday. Despite the fact that Health Ministry officials had said they would give unions an offer on paper, with calculations to back it up, unions will not be getting those figures until the next meeting.
"What else can I say, but the saga continues next Wednesday. The Ministry had made some offers, but none of them were anything concrete. They said we would discuss it in detail on Wednesday," said Nurses’ Union leader Ankica Prašnjak, expressing her disappointed at the slow progress being made in the talks.
Unions asked for a raise to the part of their salaries that covers working conditions and responsibility in the amount of 10 to 20 percent, depending on the position. The president of the Independent Health Care Union, Stjepan Topoljnak, still believes an agreement will be reached next week, but insists unions will not cave.
"Of course, we will not agree to anything less than the agreement we already initialed. We refuse to even discuss any amounts that are less than what was agreed then,” he said.
One of the sticking points in the new collective agreement is how overtime pay is calculated. Namely, many health care workers have filed lawsuits over the way hospital shave calculated their overtime pay, not including extra pay for working conditions and level of responsibility.
"It is our position that all overtime pay should include extra pay for working conditions and responsibility. I don't know what their position will be on this point, but we'll find out on Wednesday," Topoljnak said.
Union members protested today in front of the Health Ministry in the capital, while others also marched in front of hospitals in Zagreb, Pula, and Ogulin, carrying picket signs.
Nurse Dubrvaka Jasić works in Zagreb and says she's protesting for her children. Her son is a medical technician in the UK.
"He earns 2,800 pounds a month. That’s a lot. He works in intensive care, one on one with patients. That means he has one patient. Here, our nurses work with 10 patients each."
Unions plan to continue their protests next week, holding labor actions at two hospitals around the country each day.
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