By Constantinos Psillides
STATE doctors’ union PASYKI decided on Monday to call off a 24-hour strike for Wednesday, provided that Health Minister Philippos Patsalis agrees to sign an agreement regarding their future employment and withdraw a provision forbidding them from striking.
“Asking us to forgo our right to strike is unheard of. Our employer is essentially asking us for a blank check to alter our working conditions. The employees have the right and will exercise this right responsibly, within the confines set by employer-employee relations,” read a statement issued by PASYKI, whose members met in an extraordinary meeting on Monday afternoon.
The union has been going back and forth with the minister over the last year, regarding their demands concerning overtime pay, unfreezing of hospital administrator posts and better working conditions for contract doctors. The state doctors claim that the minister promised that the issue would be resolved by the end of 2014.
Patsalis, who on many occasions criticised PASYKI over their strikes, met with the state doctors on Friday in an attempt to dissuade them from striking. The minister offered solutions to the doctors’ problems but demanded that they forgo any strikes until July 2015, when hospital autonomy will kick in.
Hospital autonomy is the first step towards a National Health Scheme (NHS), which was also set as a requirement by the troika of lenders (European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and the European Union).
The union also demanded the minister sign a pledge regarding their future employment and set an implementation timeframe.
According to the PASYKI statement, the minister will have to secure “decent working conditions for all doctors, the continuation of employment for all contract doctors, a revision of the overtime pay and unfreezing all hospital administrator posts within three months.”
Patsalis didn’t immediately respond to the state doctors’ demands.