PROTESTS IN ALEXANDROVSKA HOSPITAL
Protests for money are ripening in Alexandrovska Hospital in Sofia. The nurses in the medical establishment intend to go on a relay strike by groups in non-working hours. They might also go on a hunger strike. The reason is the unpaid increase of their wages since 2002 till now. The nurses insist on getting their 10-percent increased remuneration, voted by the Government in the beginning of last year, which is due to all state employees. An inquiry of the BANKER weekly in the hospital's economic department has found that for the present they will neither get the 3.5% increase, which according to the Cabinet's decision they should be receiving as of January 1, 2003.In 2002 alone each of us lost BGN230 on the average, the surgical nurse Polina Pavlova who is one of the protest's initiators, said in front of the BANKER. The nurses' monthly wages are in the range of BGN170-190, depending on their length of service. A nurse gets BGN2.50 for each scheduled night shift, and BGN10 for an extraordinary night duty. The nurse Gyulten Zaimova, who is also among the protest's initiators, has calculated that she gets BGN13.10 for 15 night shifts after deduction of due taxes.The nurses claim that the unpaid wage increase has been spent for settling the hospital's debts to suppliers of medicines, for food, central heating and electricity bills, accumulated in 2001.In a letter to the Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha the 850 nurses in that hospital insist on getting their money. The letter will be sent next week. In it the nurses notify the PM that the hospital's management violates the instruction of the Healthcare Minister Bozhidar Finkov, dated March 11, 2002. It regulates the order for calculating the funds for the increase of wages in commercial companies with over 50-percent state participation (Alexandrovska Hospital is such a company) within the system of the Healthcare Ministry. Although the hospital does not have any debts in the new fiscal year, the Deputy Director has flatly denied to give us a pay-raise. We are hereby asking for your assistance in order to solve this problem, which has become grave for us, the draft letter reads.I fully support them and I respect their requirements not only for the guaranteed 10% increase, voted by the Council of Ministers, but also for a 3.5% pay-raise. They get miserable payment for their labour, the hospital's new procurator Dr. Silvi Kirilov commented in front of the BANKER weekly. He admitted that the doctors have neither received an increase of their salaries. However, the entire personnel of the medical establishment, which totals 2,000 people, has received BGN90 as a New Year bonus in December 2002. Mr. Kirilov explained that the people won't get the money they expect as in the end of 2002 the hospital accrued new debts of BGN1.5MN to suppliers of medicines, and by end-January 2003 they already reached BGN2MN.It's obvious that the State cannot make the nurses millionaires, but it should not reduce them to beggary.