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State doctors to proceed with strike following meeting with minister (update 2)

State doctors’ will be going ahead with a three-hour work stoppage on Wednesday despite a last minute meeting with Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas on Tuesday afternoon to find common ground.

State doctors union Pasyki and the board of directors of Pasydy said they will proceed with the three-hour work stoppage in public hospitals and health centres from 8-11am.

The health minister had called an urgent meeting with the unions after they continued to clash with state health services (Okypy), during which he said he expressed his readiness to mediate “so a middle ground can be found”.

Hadjipantelas also said he and the unions agreed on the creation of sub-committees that will be responsible for the specific issues causing problems.

The unions welcomed the minister’s involvement, expressing the hope that the “productive dialogue” that started during the meeting will have the expected results for hospitals and patients.

“Absence, authoritarianism, disrespect and insults to unions by Okypy can no longer be tolerated,” an announcement from the unions said on Monday.

“We apologise to our fellow citizens for any inconvenience, unfortunately Okypy’s attitude leaves us no choice but to implement the measures,” it added.

Okypy first heard about the work stoppage from the media, spokesman Charalambos Charilaou said, adding that the doctors’ sudden announcement disrespected labour laws as they did not give enough warning.

In response to Charilaou’s statements, Pasyki’s president Sotiris Koumas told Alpha TV on Tuesday that the unions actually warned both Okypy and the ministry about the stoppage twice – once in July and a second time in the presence of Hadjipantelas.

He added that a letter informing all relevant stakeholders was also sent before the stoppage was announced.

The two sides met last Thursday with Hadjipantelas without result, which led to the decision for the stoppage.

The union says the medical staff of the public hospitals cannot continue operating under present conditions.

Koumas said Pasyki believe that Okypy has not kept its promises, particularly in terms of facilities, doctor training and beds in paediatric clinics.

“When a contract is signed, it has to be honoured – otherwise, that’s disrespect,” Koumas said. “Is it acceptable to be discussing whether Limassol’s paediatric ward has enough beds?”

As for the disrespect and insults stated in the announcement, he said that the union feels insulted because it is never consulted for major decisions.

“What can I say? That we heard about changes to our evening schedule from the media? That we read in the press that they have prepared a manual for running A&E departments? I dare them to tell us when they informed us”.

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