Opposition Insists on Special Session Despite Fico’s Offer to Nurses

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Pavol Abrhan - KDH

Bratislava, February 8, (TASR) – Opposition parties are insisting on summoning an extraordinary session of Parliament to deal with the education and health-care sectors despite an offer made by Prime Minister Robert Fico to nurses on Friday (February 5).

Fico asked nurses who have filed their resignations to return to their patients, promising them that they would also be paid for the days when they weren’t at work. The nurses agreed, but they also want labour contracts for an indefinite period with the workplace specified. In addition, they want to return to their original posts.

“Nothing has changed, problems in the health-care sector persist,” said chair of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) caucus Pavol Abrhan. Chief of the OLaNO-NOVA caucus Richard Vasecka hasn’t changed his position either. “The session shouldn’t be only about salaries, but chiefly about the situation in the health-care and education sectors. I believe that we should talk about it and make a summary of what is taking place,” he told TASR.

OLaNO-NOVA has already collected signatures from all of its 12 MPs, while KDH is gathering signatures, as well. Most-Hid and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) have also declared their support for the extraordinary session. The Opposition needs at least 30 signatures, which might be delivered later on Monday or on Tuesday (February 9). Parliamentary Chairman Peter Pellegrini would then be obliged to summon the session within seven days.

However, a debate requires approval of the agenda, which won’t be possible without Smer-SD’s support. “It’s a premature question, as the proposal hasn’t yet been submitted. If it happens, we’ll seriously discuss it,” Parliamentary Vice-chair and chief of Smer-SD’s caucus Jana Lassakova told TASR, adding that there hasn’t been a situation before in which an extraordinary session was summoned three weeks ahead of a general election.

Even if the agenda of the talks isn’t passed, the Opposition still has the option of talking about the issues at an extraordinary session where it would try to oust Education, Science, Research and Sport Minister Juraj Draxler and Health Minister Viliam Cislak. A session with a no-confidence motion in the two Cabinet members would have to be summoned, although the agenda isn’t likely to be approved. Opposition representatives haven’t said clearly yet whether they would opt for this possibility.

The Opposition believes that the health-care and education sectors are in a critical condition. “Hundreds of nurses have quit hospitals, and thousands of teachers are still outside and not in schools. This also has an impact on patients, as well as on parents and their children,” said KDH leader Jan Figel.