Health and social care unions declare strike for 16 February

Ljubljana – Trade unions representing staff in health and social care have announced a strike starting on 16 February citing the government’s failure to resume talks to resolve remaining pay disparities as agreed.

Under the agreement struck by the unions and the government in November last year, talks should have resumed by 15 January at the latest.

The unions demand for talks to start immediately and for norms and standards in healthcare and social care to be adopted in agreement with the 2018 strike demands.

“The unions have repeatedly called on the government in writing to start a second round of talks, but with its notice on the non-start of the second round of talks the government directly violates the agreement that has the nature of a collective bargaining agreement and as a result of which strike will be paid in both activities,” said the unions on Friday.

The unions note in particular that the government has already adopted negotiating points to raise doctors’ pay, but not for health and social care staff.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar and Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said on Wednesday the negotiating positions were still being coordinated by the government.

In the first round of talks, the government and health and social care unions ascertained the need to tackle disparities in pay between jobs and professional groups that emerged in those and previous talks, including for the lowest paid employees.

In the first round of talks the government agreed a EUR 123 million pay rise for 35,000 health and social care staff.

Responding to the announcement of the strike, the Health Ministry said that it was striving to engage in a constructive negotiating dialogue with all unions, regardless of the difficult situation in healthcare due to the Omicron-driven wave of infections.

“All of us together must put the patient and uninterrupted care for citizens first as much as this is possible in the current epidemiological situation,” the ministry told the STA.

The ministry believes that both sides will soon be at the negotiating table. It confirmed that the negotiating positions had been submitted for government consideration, expressing hope they would be discussed and approved as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, trade unions representing doctors and dentists started today the negotiations with the government to conclude an annex to their collective agreement, the STA has learned. The ministry has so far not confirmed this. The government’s negotiating points are estimated at around EUR 111 million a year for doctors’ and dentists’ pay rise.