Why are Poles discontented with a high pay of Belarus nurses?

Polish nurses are protesting against wages that are two times higher in Belarus. The whole of last week, Polish nurses and medical assistant staff were holding protest actions. The protesters have installed 200 tents at the center of Warsaw in front of the prime minister’s residence to demand a higher pay and better social packages.

Polish nurses get an average of $300 per month. Protesters are obviously discontented with this amount. The wages of junior medical staff in Belarus are even less, amounting to slightly over Br300,000 ($150), a half of the Polish pay.

Belarus’s doctors get an average of $450, while the salaries of junior medical staff do not go beyond $200. Young professionals face even harder times. All bonuses inclusive, they get as mush as Br250,000 ($125). Lesja who is graduating a medical school this year tells the European Radio for Belarus about her future job.

“When you enroll (at a medical school), you don’t really think about how much you are going to earn. Nobody will tell you that you will have to work 12 hours a day, making only Br300,000. Salary mainly depends on which ward you are going to work at. All the same, it is roughly about Br300,000,” Lesia says.

Those nurses that are lucky to get a job at emergency rescue, intensive therapy or oncology wards will be paid more or less decently. Those who work as a district nurse will work hard, getting only Br200-300,000.

Most of the pay is spent on food and utility bills.

“It is small!” says almost every nurse from the Clinic No 20 in Minsk, responding to the question about the salary.

It is interesting whether the Ministry of Health officials asked themselves a question whether it was possible to buy anything or go for summer holidays for Br250,000.

The trade unions agree that the situation with the salaries for nurses is bad. But they don’t see any methods of meeting demands of their worker other than exchanging correspondence with the government.

Natallia Kuprejcyk, the leader of the National Trade Union of Medical Workers told the European Radio for Belarus about complaints from the regions about salary arrears. In respond to our question whether they would be ready to protest like the Polish nurses are protesting now, she said:

“We are not planning anything like this. We do not support these methods”.

Julia Kleschanka works as a chief nurse at the Children’s Cardiologic Center. She lives together with her parents, because she does not earn enough to rent. Last winter, Julia managed to spend vacations in Egypt. Later, she had to pay back her debts for three months. If Julia received only one rate of pay, she would get Br450,000 ($225). But she gets one and a half rates of pay, thus making Br650,000 ($325).

“I spend half of my life at work. Actually, all medical workers have to work for more than one rate in order to afford food and clothing. Besides, many nurses seek additional jobs. For instance, I worked half time as a nanny for three years. As a result, I used to get two salaries, but I could hardly sleep enough,” she said.

Nurses in Belarus can reach the Polish level of salaries. But, to make it, they have to work 16 hours daily.

Photo by www.gazetawyborcza.pl