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Health workers angry at budget cuts

Published on 24/11/2004

24 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian health unions have agreed to protest on 3 December over likely budget cuts, it emerged on Wednesday.

Doctors, pharmacists, health insurance providers and the drug companies are all worried by plans by Belgium’s social affairs minister Rudy Demotte to save EUR 240 million next year, and to make an extra EUR 240 million in structural savings.

It is understood that doctors are to be asked to make savings of EUR 90 million next year, the pharmaceutical industry EUR 140 million and pharmacists EUR 86 millions.

On Tuesday, the united union group met to discuss the proposals.

Afterwards, spokeswoman Yves Helledorff told the Belga news agency: “We will demonstrate … each Friday from 3 December and as long as is necessary.”

Demotte has already made it clear that he does not intend to modify his plans.

He argues that without the cuts Belgium’s multi-million euro health budget deficit would get even bigger.

A meeting of senior members of the Belgian government – known as the inner cabinet – backed their colleague’s stance on Wednesday, giving their approval to his plans.

But the inner cabinet will nevertheless meet again on 3 December to discuss the problem of the health budget and the health workers’ demands.

Unions say they could call an all out strike if they are unhappy with the result of those talks.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news