Employees within the subsidiaries of the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) have initiated a strike starting this Monday. During this period, these subsidiaries will focus solely on essential tasks, such as enrolling minors in health insurance, managing the health insurance of hospitalized individuals, and facilitating emergency treatment abroad.

The HIF Union has outlined that only one employee per regional unit will be responsible for handling documentation during the strike.

In a press release, the Union expressed gratitude towards citizens, as well as public and private healthcare professionals, who have shown support for the employees and their demands, understanding the issues related to wages.

Earlier in the week, HIF employees gathered to voice their dissatisfaction with the potential wage reductions they might face.

HIF Union President Branko Adzhigogov explained, “On January 9, the Government recommended a 21 percent wage cut to align with the adopted budget, resulting in a 21 percent reduction in employee salaries.”

According to the Union, this decision will impact 831 HIF employees, with 25 percent receiving a wage below the minimum and another 25 percent receiving the minimum wage.

The Finance Ministry clarified that the issue is not about reducing wages but rather an attempt to subsequently increase them, acknowledging that such an increase would have fiscal implications on the budget.

In 2023, HIF wages saw multiple increments, with the Ministry noting an initial increase of Mden 2,100 (EUR 34) or seven percent in March to align with the minimum wage. Additionally, there was a 2.5 percent increase in January and a 3.5 percent increase in August.

“The General Collective Agreement stipulates a 10-percent raise for all public sector employees. The cumulative wage raise for HIF employees in 2023 amounted to 25 percent. Furthermore, employees exercised their right to a vacation bonus of Mden 10,000 (EUR 164). Due to fiscal implications on the Fund’s budget, the Government recommended to HIF’s Management Board that the Decision to increase the value points, adopted for 2025, be delayed. This is based on the grounds that the 2024 budget will not allocate sufficient funds for a salary increase. Securing funds would entail reallocating from other expenditures, potentially resulting in a cut to funds for medicine and health services for citizens to facilitate the wage increase,” stated the Finance Ministry.