After a court in September banned their previous planned strike, Macedonian doctors have vowed to ahead with a strike on November 14, whatever the courts say.Macedonian medics say Health Ministry pressures and court bans will not stop them from taking industrial action over the ministry’s new way of calculating their wages.
They “have to face the will of all medical practitioners in the Macedonian public health system and this can’t be ignored”, Dajan Stavric, head of the Independent Trade Union of Medical Clinics, said.
In mid-September, a court in Skopje upheld the request of the Health Minister, Nikola Todorov, to ban a previously announced strike.
The court ruled that the strike set for September 24 was illegal “owing to the specific nature of the medical profession”, as it could leave thousands of patients unattended.
As a result, medics held only a short warning protest.
“This time we may again find ourselves in the courts, or suffer the consequences, but the decision of the medics will stay and, formally or not, they will go on strike [on November 14],” Stavric said.
Macedonian doctors are angry about the Health Ministry’s new method of calculating their wages, which is based on the number of patients they treated over the previous month.
In addition, they want an immediate increase in their basic wages.
Talks between the union and the Health Minister, Todorov, have so far been in vain.
Todorov, who previously accused doctors of undermining the negotiations and of being too stubborn, has urged renewed negotiations.
The union, meanwhile, claims that 90 per cent of medical staff at the Skopje Clinical Centre back the strike call. They also say that other clinics and hospitals are joining in.
If a mass strike of doctors does take place, it will be the first in roughly a decade.
According to official data, the lowest salary in the state health system equals about 150 euro, while the average medical practitioner earns about 550 euro a month. This is well above the national average monthly salary, which is around 300 euro a month.