By Shakeh Avoyan
Several dozen doctors who have not been paid for almost one and a half year gathered outside the government building in Yerevan Wednesday to demand their back salaries.
The personnel of the therapeutical department of one of the city’s largest policlinics went on a strike on March 6, protesting the longest yet wage arrearage reported in Armenia.
“We are struggling to get our meager salaries,” said Svetlana Shahbazian, one of the organizers of the action. “If our demands are not met in the next three days, we will go to court.”
A top aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian who met with the protesters told them to readdress their demands to the Yerevan municipality which is directly responsible for all the policlinics in the capital.
Mayor Robert Nazarian announced later in the day that the doctors will be paid four-month salaries on Thursday. The pledge came after President Robert Kocharian publicly castigated Nazarian and his subordinates for the strike. The strongly-worded criticism was voiced by Kocharian at a meeting with the municipal authorities on Tuesday. Nazarian responded by accusing unnamed opposition parties of stoking the doctors’ anger and frustration.
But the demonstrators denied the mayor’s claims. “We have no connections with any party. We are only demanding our wages,” said one of them.
Meanwhile, the head of the policlinic beset by the strike threatened to fire her employees if they fail to return to work this week. “They have reason to protest but should at the same time be more patient,” Nazik Matevosian told RFE/RL.