Kujundžić: Over the past three years wages in healthcare have grown 18 percent

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Health Minister Milan Kujundzic on Thursday commented on a protest of nurses expected to take place outside the government offices today, saying that he could understand their wish for higher wages but that the government had increased the wages as much as it could at the moment.

"Nurses are an important part of the health system and countless of them are good, valuable and dedicated workers... at the moment, the government has done the most it could. Over the past three years their wages have grown 18%. If only that had been done earlier, but this government will continue considering that possibility as soon as the first opportunity arises," said the minister.

The government and healthcare unions recently signed an annex to a collective agreement under which wage bonuses of workers in the healthcare sector have increased by 7% as of September. The bonus for special working conditions has increased linearly by 3% while the bonus for the degree of job responsibility has increased by 4%.

The bonus for workers on stand by has increased by 1% per working day and by 2% for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and the annex also includes the payment of travel expenses for workers on stand by who are called in.

According to unions' calculations, the net wage of a nurse with 20 years of service has thus been increased from HRK 250 to 350, depending on the position.

Commenting on the proposal by the ombudswoman for children's rights to introduce prison sentences for parents refusing to have their children vaccinated, Kujundzic said that such cases should be fined but that he was not in favour of prison sentences.

"I don't think that drastic penalties are necessary but that parents should primarily be educated, which is what we have been doing and why in the last two years we have had a higher vaccination rate," said the minister.

Text: Hina

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