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Talks to End Poland's Medical Strike Fail

Polish authorities have broken off talks with striking doctors and nurses who have camped outside the prime minister's office for about 20 days to demand higher pay , the health minister said Tuesday.

"There will be no more discussions with the unions, the government has nothing else to offer," said Zbigniew Religa, after union representatives walked away from the negotiations.

The government had offered pay increases in 2008 but the strikers wanted hikes this year.

Poland's state-employed medical workers are notoriously overworked and underpaid, like their counterparts across most of the former communist bloc.

Polish nurses earn the equivalent of 290-340 euros (390-450 dollars) a month, while the average pay packet for hospital doctors is 395 euros.

The government has said that Poland lacks the budget to grant health workers major pay hikes.

Hundreds of nurses have camped outside the government's headquarters since June 19 and have refused to heed calls to evacuate. Four of them had to be hospitalised after embarking on a hunger strike.

Doctors at government hospitals struck work two months ago, thereby hitting public health services. Many of them have also started hunger protests.


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