Trade unions in the health sector are set to take joint strike action on 24 October unless there are positive developments in the sector negotiations that resume on 14 October. Some demonstrations have already taken place but the unions are concerned about the lack of progress on substantial questions such as funding, worsening conditions, excessive flexibility and overworks and staff shortages.
Unions in joint action over health sector negotiations
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The LVSADA health workers’ union was planning to take strike action to put pressure on the government to deliver pay increases that were promised last year. The union had called for a 10% pay rise for health staff from the beginning of January this year but the Ministry of Health has failed to deliver. LVSADA argues that an increase is vital if health sector wages are to keep pace with rapidly rising inflation and average earnings. The union underlines how important protecting purchasing power is as part of the strategy to tackle the major staff shortages across the sector.
Over 1500 employees of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) took part in a one-hour warning strike on 13 June organised by trade unions in the CITUB and Podkrepa confederations. The unions are calling for an increase on the basic salaries of all NHIF employees and the creation of at least 200 new full-time positions to ensure that the service can copes with new demand on the NHIF. The unions estimate that an extra BGN 10 million (€5.1m) is needed to cover these costs and wants to ensure that this is include in the NHIF budget for 2022. NHIF workers are highly qualified specialists
The FSSHK health workers’ union suspended strike action planned for 20 December to allow for talks with the health ministry and prime minister. The union has already taken action in its campaign to ensure the 2022 budget includes funding for higher pay for health workers. The union is aiming for a 50% pay increase. However, it has proved difficult to bring the government to the negotiating table and the union says that it has only suspended the action and it will set another date in January if talks with the government don’t deliver. The prime minister has attacked the leadership of both the