ZAGREB, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Doctors and nurses in several hospitals in Croatia briefly stopped working on Wednesday to protest over salaries and working conditions in the health system.
The protest was held in three major hospitals in Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik, where medical staff ceased working for 15 to 60 minutes.
The union leaders said that the protest is a warning to the government and public that the health system is on the brink of collapse. They also noted that the open protest could be an overture to a strike, on which they will decide on Friday after they hear the government proposal on pay rise.
Health care unions and the Croatian government are negotiating a new collective agreement.
Last week, the unions demanded a pay rise between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the working position. In the last collective agreement, they have agreed on a 7-percent-rise with the health minister, but the government later rejected the deal. The negotiations should continue on Friday when the government is expected to offer its proposal.
Hospitals in Croatia are facing a shortage of doctors and nurses. Since 2013, when Croatia joined the European Union, many doctors and nurses have left the country for better-paid positions in western Europe.
"We want to warn the government that the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse given the number of employees, working conditions, salaries, working extra shifts and the absence of a collective agreement for a year and a half now," union leader Ankica Prasnjak said ahead of the protest. Enditem