Following six hours of forced talks last night, no agreement was reached between representatives of doctors’ trade union LOZ and health minister Ivan Uhliarik over doctors demands and the withdrawal of over 2,000 resignations.
After the meeting, head of LOZ Marian Kollar declared that they had basically not reached agreement on any of their four demands; better financing for the health service, a halt to the transformation of hospitals into joint stocks, working conditions for doctors in line with the Labour Code, and a significant hike in salaries.
Minister Uhliarik, on the other hand, is more positive about the outcome of the talks. He says that they had more or less concurred in respect of three of the demands, with only higher salaries proving the sticking point. The unions, though, reject this claim, saying no progress had been made.
In one week’s time on 1 December the Slovak health service could lose almost a third of its hospital doctors who handed in protest resignations on 1 October. Minister Uhliarik is still confident that the situation will be resolved by then, though, even though the trade unionists had barged into his office earlier in the day while he and his crisis team were planning for the possible crisis in hospitals.
Regarding pay conditions, doctors have been demanding a much higher hike than the maximum EUR 300 offered by the minister, but doctors do not rule out an agreement even there as Uhliarik has taken a firm stance to this point, as the country cannot afford more at this time.
The final showdown between adamant minister Uhliarik and the unionists will take place on Wednesday 23 November together with acting PM Iveta Radicova.