Bosnian Serb Doctors Protest over Late Wages
Several hundred Bosnian Serb doctors gathered here Friday to protest several months of delayed salaries, continuing a strike that began over a month ago.
Doctors from all over the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska (RS), carried banners saying: "Remember us when you are healthy," and said they would only stop their protest once their demands were met.
Their strike -- during which only emergency care is provided -- was suspended several times since November.
But the government recently made clear that it lacked money for health services. "The government has no money to pay doctors," Bosnian Serb Health Minister Zeljko Rodic told journalists recently.
The outgoing government currently owes 300 million German marks (138 million dollars, 153 million euros) in back wages and pensions, economist Mladen Ivanic of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) said Friday in an interview with the daily Nezavisne Novine.
"That means that almost half of the (next) year's budget of RS is already spent," Ivanic, who is seen as the favorite to take over the RS prime ministerial post, said.
The entity, which along with the Muslim-Croat Federation makes up postwar Bosnia, has recently been hit by a wave of social unrest, led by pensioners, teachers and railway workers.
The average salary in the RS is 286 German marks (131 dollars, 146 euros) while the average pension is 93 marks (43 dollars, 48 euros).
The bureau for statistics estimates that 421 marks (193 dollars, 215 euros) are needed to cover the basic needs of a family of four -- BANJA LUKA (AFP)
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