A delegation representing Polish healthcare workers refused to accept an invitation for a meeting with the government, Adam Niedzielski, the health minister, said on Tuesday.
“We wanted to discuss the reality of their demands, what they mean for the functioning of the whole state, but my invitation unfortunately did not meet with the protesters' expectations,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a press briefing on Tuesday. He added that he had wanted to discuss financial demands and propositions with the Strike Committee.
“The aim of the meeting was to clarify certain doubts, and details of the costs related to their demands,” Minister Niedzielski said, adding that meeting all the demands would cost the state for the rest of the year PLN 26.05 bn (EUR 5.74 bn), and PLN 104.7 bn (EUR 23.07 bn) next year.
Healthcare workers have taken to the streets of Warsaw demanding higher wages and better working conditions as the country braces itself for a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some protesters set up tents near the Prime Minister's Office in central Warsaw.
They also want healthcare spending to increase to 8 percent of GDP faster than currently planned, but the government has described their demands as “unrealistic on the grounds of cost.”
The government plans to gradually increase the country’s healthcare spending to 7 percent of GDP from the current level of some 4.5 percent, but the process may take years and it has not yet started as it depends on the introduction of a large-scale economic programme, the Polish New Deal, which has not been passed by parliament yet.