Leaders of the Ambulance National Trade Union Federation of Romania's ambulance service workers discussed on Tuesday Health Minister Nelu Tataru budget revision, bonus payments and temporarily distributed positions, according to union leader Gheorghe Chis."As a first issue, of course, was the part of securing the necessary budget for the budget revision of the ambulance services at the level required, both in terms of pay and material expenses, because the budget approved for 2020 did not take into account these extra spending after pandemic was declared. So, there are discussions on this issue and we hope that the issue will be resolved because we have been promised that the Ministry of Health will work with the government to secure the necessary budget," Gheorghe Chis said on Tuesday at the end of discussions with Health Minister Nelu Tataru.
He added that the problem with the 1,000 positions that were temporarily assigned for six months at the most during the state of emergency is another acute problem for the ambulance service workers.
"There is a massive staff shortage due to the loss of 3,000 positions in 2009-2013 and we have recovered very few. We want these  positions to be filled through competition, but unfortunately that is not possible as the pandemic is raging on," said Chis.
According to him, only 50% of the 1,000 positions are currently occupied, because "no one leaves a stable position for a temporary position."
Chis also mentioned that there are problems with the ambulance services regarding the paying of risk incentives.
"One issue that has been under discussion for months since the emergency was declared is this risk incentive, because it has not been paid to all the field staff. Moreover, we have a problem now, being blocked by the government's challenge with the Constitutional Court of the law approving Ordinance 64, which amends and supplements Ordinance 43 [emergency ordinance for the approval of support measures reimbursed from European funds, as a result of the spread of COVID-19 during the emergency state]. We are waiting, because we have made changes in the law adopted in Parliament so that this risk incentive can be granted also to the staff who participated not only in confirmed but also suspicious cases," said Chis.
At the same time, the union leader said that there are problems with granting the gratitude bonus because there is an interpretation at county level.
"We have another problem with observing and granting that bonus extended under Law 56, the gratitude bonus for the frontline staff in combating and treating COVID-19. (...) Some counties interpret it very wrongly (...) and do not grant that 20% bonus regulated by ministerial order to the ambulance service workers. (...) I have asked the minister for clarifications (...), " added the trade union leader.
Health Minister Tataru invited on Tuesday morning the leadership of the Ambulance National Trade Union Federation of Romania's ambulance service workers to a meeting to discuss the problems currently facing ambulance services during this period.