Latvian medical workers trade union slowly prepares for a strike

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Employees (LVSADA) is preparing for its planned strike slowly and gradually. The possibility of restarting talks with the Ministry of Health is not excluded either, said the chairman of the Strike Committee Līga Bāriņa in an interview of Latvijas Radio.
She says it is planned to organise a survey to determine which dates are the most appropriate for members of the trade union.
Bāriņa affirms that the epidemiological situation in the country will be taken into account when planning the strike. She also adds patients will not be left completely without healthcare services during the strike.
The head of the Strike Committee does not exclude the Ministry of Health and the government changing their views shortly before the strike and finding additional financing to satisfy medical workers’ requests for wage increase.
When asked if medical workers receive any bonus pay for having to work during Covid-19 pandemic, Bāriņa said only the medical workers who take care of Covid-19 patients and perform testing receive bonus pay.
LVSADA announced on 21 December its plans to organise a Strike Committee and cease talks with the Ministry of Health in response to minister Daniels Pavļuts’ «negligent attitude towards pre-strike talks».
On 22 November the trade union decided not to come to a meeting of the Health Industry Strategic Council due to the «minister’s negligent attitude». LVSADA board made this decision in response to the «negligent attitude towards pre-strike talks» of the minister of health.
The organisation claims for more than two months of pre-strike talks «the minister of health has not made any effort to reach a constructive deal».
In response to LVSADA’s decision, the Ministry of Health noted the government put aside more than EUR 364 million to increase medical workers’ wages between 2019 and 2022. «Additionally, for 2021 the ministry managed to allocate an additional EUR 183 million for the increase of medical workers’ wages in 2021».
The ministry also notes that this year another EUR 170 million was put aside for Covid-19 bonus pay, vacation reserves and overtime pay. The ministry adds it will be necessary to maintain bonus pay and overtime pay next year as well, considering the complicated situation in healthcare due to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health requested EUR 80 million for doctors’ pay next year. However, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed to provide only EUR 35 million and an additional EUR 6 million for resident wages and EUR 3 million for nurse training.
The Ministry of Health believes medical workers deserve fair, competitive and transparent pay they can depend on, not just bonus pay during Covid-19 pandemic. To ensure at least 70% of pay is fixed, the ministry plans to continue work on a new pay model for medical workers. «The Ministry of Health continues work on public health guidelines in which we plan to work in long-term wage increase for medical workers,» adds the ministry.