Healthcare workers go on strike countrywide

Members of the union Sanitas Health Federation, started a Japanese-style strike on October 7 to finally grab the attention of the government: Healthcare workers are physically and psychologically exhausted and have not received the remuneration supplement they are entitled to by law. The strike has no effect on the ongoing treatment of patients, Emma Nyulas, the trade union’s leader for Hargita/Harghita County, told Székelyhon.

More than 100,000 healthcare workers countrywide, including the 2,000 members located in Hargita County, went on strike because the government refused to negotiate with the Sanitas Federation. The trade union already forwarded a list of requests to the government. Among them is the wage supplement to which healthcare and social workers are entitled. For example, healthcare workers are entitled to a RON 2,500 (~ EUR 512) risk incentive by Ordnance no. 43/2020, which never arrived in their bank accounts.

There is no pandemic in Romania

One issue is that Romanian Health Minister Nelu Tătaru did not declare in an official document that there is an epidemic situation in the country, and the Sanitas Federation has already sued the minister for this reason. The current legislation prescribes a 55-85 percent salary increase during a pandemic, but since there is (officially) no such situation in Romania – just worldwide – medical workers aren’t entitled to receive this salary increase.

President Iohannis also promised a wage supplement of up to 30 percent to medical staff working with COVID-19 patients, but when hospitals finalized the detailed work-hour statistics per worker for the past three months, the Ministry of Finance’s reaction was that there is no monetary coverage for such an expense, so the medical workers remain with the promise, but empty pockets. Additionally, workers did not receive their 2020 holiday tickets either.

As Emma Nyulas pointed out, the Japanese-style strike won’t affect patient treatment: Work carries on as usual, and the only visual evidence of the strike is the blue armbands worn by medical staff and the demands of the union, which were posted on the doors of hospital wards.

Title image: Healthcare workers demand their rights via Japanese-style strike. Image source: Sanitas’ Facebook page

Author: István Fekete