Prague, Aug 17 (CTK) – Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) said today the health and social care trade union has gone on strike alert in an attempt to corner him in search of a 10-percent across-the-board pay rise in the health sector, but he would not yield to the pressure.
According to the ministry’s analysis, the wages of nurses rose by 12 percent in 2017 instead of 10 percent that the previous cabinet had promised. Next year, hospitals’ overall budget will increase by 5 percent, and it is up to them to decide how to spend the money, and up to the unions to negotiate about a pay increase, Vojtech said.
In addition, hospitals will receive 4.7 billion crowns to raise bonuses for the staffers who do shift work, he said.
He said he is ready to talk to the unions and help them in their negotiations on a pay-rise with the respective hospital managements.
The Health and Social Care Workers’ Union went on strike alert this morning, demanding an across-the-board 10 percent pay increase next year.
Vojtech said negotiations between the ministry, health insurers and health care providers on health care prices in 2019 are over now, the relevant directive has been completed and there is no space for further changes.
“The action of pressure is inappropriate, it is rather a political action,” Vojtech said.
He said nurses saw their wages rise by 30 percent over the past five years, which was the highest increase out of all medical professions.
In spite of that, hospitals are short of about 3,000 nurses.
Vojtech said the problem does not rest in a shortage of money only. That is why he is considering proposing to lower the retirement age for nurses or introduce a retirement rent for them similar to that former soldiers and police receive for their years of work with the security corps.
“Nurses have been always saying that the biggest problem is that of their shift work,” Vojtech said, adding that the monthly bonuses for shift work will go up by 5,000 crowns for nurses in hospitals and 2,000 crowns for health care attendants and further lower personnel.
This amounts to their real pay increase by 15 and 10 percent, respectively, Vojtech pointed out.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) used the same arguments in an interview with iDnes.server.
Also speaking about a so far 30 percent increase in nurses’ wages, he said they will continue rising next year.
“A record 320 billion crowns will go to the Czech health care…, including 13 billion to hospitals. This sum enables to raise the pay to all health care workers by up to 10 percent. The increases, however, will be targeted and applied where it is needed most urgently,” Babis told iDnes.cz.
The health sector’s budget will be 320 billion crowns next year, 20 billion more than this year. “Although we vowed to divide money evenly, still the largest sum goes to hospitals,” Vojtech said, adding that hospitals’ budget will rise by a total 13 billion crowns.
The union insists that a 10 percent pay increase was promised to it by the previous cabinet in 2016 and that the current prime minister, Andrej Babis (ANO), confirmed the vow in May.
Babis, nevertheless, said this was no promise by his government but his expression of support for the unions in their negotiations with hospital managements.
The cabinet proposes a 4-5 percent increase in civil servants’ wages as of next year, with the pay of teachers and poorly paid professions rising more steeply than others.