On 12 May healthworkers in Sofia and Zagreb demonstrated over poor pay and working conditions and the crisis of understaffing. 5000 nurses, medical professionals, midwives and lab technicians joined a demonstration outside the Council of Ministers in Sofia demanding a 1500 Lev (EUR 765) minimum wage for health workers as a step towards stemming the flow of health workers out of the country. In Zagreb the call was also for improved pay and working conditions and in particular the respect for collective agreements in relation to overtime pay.
Health workers call for higher pay to stop emigration
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The health workers' union has called for increased funding for the sector to deal with the major problem of healthworkers' pay. The union reports that an analysis of wage developments in the first half of 2017 found that average pay for doctors and other medical staff actually fell in seven Russian regions while in contrast wages in industry increased. The wide range of salaries across the country is exacerbating staff shortages and the union highlights the fact that in many institutions the pay bill is the first to be cut in order to fund other areas of health spending.
The ETUC has welcomed the vote by the European Parliament to support changes to the posted workers' directive. The changes were negotiated between the Parliament, European Commission and Council and now the Directive can be used to guarantee that posted workers get the same pay rates as locally employed workers. The ETUC concedes that there was a significant compromise in the exclusion of road transport workers but identified this and the need to ensure application through the sub-contracting chain as issues to be taken up in future.
The FPSU trade union confederation has called on the government to raise the minimum wage to keep it in line with calculations of a living wage. It argues that in 2017 the two-stage increase of the minimum wage to UAH 3200 (EUR 104) was positive for both the standard of living and economic growth. However, this January's increase to UAH 3723 (EUR 121) was inadequate to keep pace with the living wage which had already risen to UAH 4011 (EUR 130) and was at UAH 4213 (EUR 137) by April. According to the FPSU around 20% of workers are classified as poor and the average wage at EUR 262 is only