Sanitas: Token strike in healthcare on May 7, general strike on May 11; 10,000-strong public protest on April 26

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The representatives of the Sanitas Federation announced on Thursday that a token strike will take place on May 7, a general strike on May 11, and a public protest in which more than 10,000 people are expected to take part will be organised in Bucharest on April 26, because of the “chaos in the healthcare sector,” where some incomes have dropped by up to RON 1,100 following the enforcement of the unitary salary law.

Sanitas President Leonard Barascu announced on Thursday, at the end of the Federation’s National Council meeting, that the triggering of a general strike in the healthcare sector has been decided for May 11. Until then, a token strike will take place on May 7, and a public protest will take place in Bucharest on April 26.

“We expect at least 10,000 healthcare employees to take part in this protest, because the problems are big. (…) There’s chaos in healthcare,” the leader of Sanitas said.

He stated that the salaries of some healthcare employees have dropped by RON 500-1,100 following the enforcement of the unitary salary law.

“Unfortunately, we’re discussing the salary law, which will be enforced in a phased manner until 2022, and we’re saying nobody is losing. This law was created to bring gains for everybody, but today we’re only saying there are no losses, and I want us to talk about who wins and how much. The nurse, the one the Labour Minister parades on television for having a decent income. The salary hike does not even cover the inflation rate by 2022. Let’s talk seriously about the salary law and not just with examples that suit the government officials,” Sanitas Vice President Iulian Pope stated in his turn.

He called on the Labour Minister to take responsibility for the errors she made in drafting the unitary salary law and to correct them.

“Some managers choose to say that the trade union is to blame, just as the ministry is choosing to do. I’m calling on the Labour Minister to take responsibility for the errors she made in drafting the unitary salary law and to correct them, the trade unions are not at fault. The bonus regulations are decent, the problem is we cannot enforce them, that 30 percent cap prevents us from offering fair bonuses to our colleagues in all hospitals,” the trade union leader added.

The employees of hospitals in Bucharest and other cities have lately staged daily protests, as a result of the bonus cuts in the healthcare sector.

On Wednesday, at the start of the Government meeting, Premier Viorica Dancila asked the Health, Labour and Finance ministers to find solutions to the salary problems in the healthcare sector by the end of this week.

On Wednesday, when asked for his comment on the dissatisfaction caused by the slump in some healthcare sector salaries, President Klaus Iohannis said that “it’s clear there isn’t unitary thinking at the level of the Government.” “These issues must be solved by the Government, they can’t be thrown in anyone’s backyard. The legislation is as it is, and instability appears, lack of clarity, and all of this leads to social unrest that does not improve the social climate at all,” Iohannis said.

Health Minister Sorina Pintea was stating, after talks at the Finance Ministry, that hospital managers must find solutions to redistribute the bonuses, so that employees would not see their salaries dropping. “It wasn’t a discussion about salaries, we tackled many other topics. The budget is very clear. We have the salary hikes and the capping of bonuses at 30 percent, it’s the managers’ turn to be managers. I’ve verified the activity of some hospitals, it’s inadmissible for them not to conclude contracts with the CNAS so far. We will continue this type of assessments,” Sorina Pintea stated.

Sorina Pintea explained that salary drops have affected approximately 10 percent of the total number of medical personnel, and in the case of other healthcare employees there are “significant hikes.” “It’s a regrettable situation, it’s inadmissible to lose income, but this can be remedied. This is the budget. I’ve told this to managers too, it all depends on their good management,” Pintea explained.

She threatened to kick out of the system the hospital managers who fail to do their job, but did not point out how long the assessment process will take. “We’ve started this type of assessments. You realise, there are 180 hospitals subordinated to the Health Ministry.”

A week ago, at the end of negotiations with healthcare sector trade unions, the Health Minister announced that she will issue a memorandum asking hospitals to offer, based on the law, incentives to the employees who will have lower incomes in March, to compensate for the losses.