Thursday, 23 September 2021

Nurses Protest in Downtown Zagreb

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - Members of the nurses union protested in downtown Zagreb on Thursday, saying there was no Health Ministry plan to improve their status and that they were being threatened and forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They pointed to problems with inadequately paid overtime, job classification, accelerated retirement, and the recognition of university education.

Nurses said they were aware of their responsibility towards patients but that due to everyday fatigue and stress, they were becoming patients themselves.

They said COVID certificates in healthcare were unenforceable and that the rate of vaccination was so high that the minister was not allowed to say it publicly.

"How did we work for a year and a half without a vaccine, testing, and enough gear? People didn't exactly die because irresponsible nurses infected them," one nurse said, asking the minister if layoffs were next. "There are too few of us anyway. There is a shortage of at least 8,000 and you are doing nothing about it."

Minister: Protest is legitimate, but facts shouldn't be manipulated with

Health Minister Vili Beroš said the union protest by some nurses was legitimate but that they should not manipulate with facts.

He said the payment of overtime was regulated by a supplement to the collective agreement and the payment of overtime arrears was agreed upon a few days ago in communication with the unions.

Beroš reiterated that there was no coercion to get vaccinated but said that everyone working with sick people must know that they could infect them.

"We want to prevent that but in a reasonable way," he said, adding that those who have not recovered from COVID and refuse to get vaccinated or tested most probably will not get paid. "However, I don't think there will be such people."

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