Macedonia Doctors Defiant as Court Bans Strike

After a court in Skopje upheld the request of the Health Ministry to ban an announced strike by doctors, medics said they would appeal and set a new date for a stoppage.Doctors said they are not discouraged by the ruling, which was delivered in an express procedure, and will appeal the ruling and set a new date for the strike.

The court on Thursday ruled that the strike set for September 24 was illegal “owing to the specific nature of the medical profession”, as a strike could leave thousands of patients unattended.

But doctors sounded defiant. “We call on our constitutional right to strike. This will not silence us and we will set another date,” Dejan Stavric, head of the Independent Trade Union of Medical Clinics, said.

Macedonian doctors have given the Health Ministry until September 24 to retract a new provision for calculating their wages, which is based on the number of patients they have treated over the previous month.

They say the method has proven subject to manipulation. In addition, they want an immediate increase to their average monthly wages of 550 euro.

Health Minister Nikola Todorov condemned the strike call and filed a request before the courts to ban it, arguing that leaving patients unattended was illegal.

The opposition Social Democrats accused Todorov of misusing the system by getting a trial verdict in only a few days, noting that ordinary people wait months, or even years, for trials.

If a mass strike of doctors does take place, it will be the first in almost a decade. Doctors in the union said that they would continue to treat emergency cases.

The union claims that 90 per cent of the medical staff at the Skopje Clinical Centre backed the call for strike action. They also say that other clinics and hospitals around the country are joining in.

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