Doctors to escalate strike on Tuesday
The decision was taken on Friday by the main strike committee of the FIDES trade union and announced by its boss Konrad Kuštrin while talks with the government were still ongoing.
Kuštrin said he did not expect sufficient progress would be made today for the strike, continuing for the 11th day, to be frozen. But he added that they were willing to continue to negotiate at the weekend.
Before heading for the talks, Kuštrin said he expected "a surprise, considering the government has authorised Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc to negotiate and come up with new proposals".
He said that it would be clear soon whether the government was willing to make any new commitments. "If not, we'll suspend talks... and resume them when the government has something in its hands."
Doctors went on strike on 8 November by refusing to work overtime and sticking to a strict 40-hour work week.
On escalating the action they will only perform duties they are obliged by law to provide even when on strike. This means they will not see to non-emergency appointments or surgeries.
FIDES first threatened to step up its action this Tuesday, but decided to wait until the government responded to its demand for doctors to be excluded from the public sector pay system.
The government rejected the demand yesterday because it was likely to open the floodgates and send the public sector wage bill soaring.
"The exemption from the single pay system was the most elegant option. The strike demand still on the table is changing the pay system through vertical promotions and scrapping the 57th bracket cap," said Kuštrin in a reference to demand for higher pay.
He said the government could prevent the strike's escalation by committing it would submit to parliament the required changes to the pay system with a biding deadline for their implementation.
"Let's say the government does this this month and then we may be willing to freeze the strike for two months," said the trade unionist.