Healthcare workers face stagnant wages as negotiations remain deadlocked

Bulgaria

Healthcare trade unions are facing a longstanding deadlock with employers over the sector collective agreement. This has led to stagnant wages for healthcare workers, worsening an existing staffing crisis. The two main trade union confederations, CITUB and Podkrepa have voiced concerns over employers' chronic refusal to engage in negotiation processes for a new agreement, despite legal obligations outlined in national labour legislation and the Adequate Minimum Wage Directive that advocates for collective bargaining. The economic situation, with rising minimum wage, living costs, salaries, and inflation rates contrasts sharply with static wage levels in healthcare. Inflation rates averaged 15.3% in 2022 and 9.5% in 2023, making the wage growth disparity increasingly untenable. Furthermore, the healthcare system faces a severe shortage of medical professionals, with reports indicating a deficit of over 30,000 nurses alone. The confederations stress the importance of fair compensation in retaining and motivating specialists amid this shortage, underscoring the necessity of decent working conditions and salaries. Unions are calling for the competent authorities to intervene and enforce negotiation procedures for a new sector collective agreement, warning against prolonged neglect of medical professionals' rights and interests.

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