News roundup - Tuesday, 10 January

Ljubljana, 10 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 10 January:

Strike by doctors planned for 11 January called off as deal brokered

LJUBLJANA - Fides, the trade union of doctors and dentists, called off a 24-hour strike due to be held on Wednesday after reaching a last-minute deal with the government brokered by the Medical Association. The details of the agreement have not been revealed yet. Having signed the deal, Fides now expects the preliminary agreement to be signed by the government on Thursday, whereupon it will be presented to the public. The Medical Chamber welcomed the agreement as "an encouraging step," even as it noted that "serious and decisive change" would be needed to sort out the problems.

Rallies in support of public healthcare held around the country

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR/KOPER... - Rallies were held in nine Slovenian cities in support of the preservation of public healthcare amidst a shortage of general practitioners, with mostly small groups of protesters demanding that healthcare be accessible to all and decrying privatised healthcare. The main rally in Ljubljana attracted an estimated thousand protesters according to several media. Many senior coalition and government officials were in attendance, including Prime Minister Robert Golob.

Pirc Musar backs "patients' strike", calls for equal access to healthcare

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar expressed support for today's rallies held in the name of patients without proper access to healthcare. Arguing for equal access to quality public healthcare, she said the topic would be among her priorities this year and would also be addressed in a special forum debate organised by her. Her press release featured a photo of her wearing crossed bandages - the symbol of the rallies.

Young doctors critical of "patients' strike"

LJUBLJANA - The association of young doctors has issued a statement online to criticise today's patients' strike, saying that patients gathering in front of community health centres is offensive because this is where health professionals who have not yet left the public health system work while also doing the work of those who have left it. This is why they wonder why the protests are not taking place in front of the public health insurance fund ZZZS, the Health Ministry and town halls.

Novartis and Porton creating biotech park in Mengeš

MENGEŠ - Novartis, the Swiss owner of the Ljubljana-based pharmaceutical company Lek, and its Chinese supplier Porton Pharma Solutions will set up a biotechnological park in Mengeš, central Slovenia. Novartis will lease part of its vacant premises to Porton in what the N1 news portal reports will create 300 new jobs. "This will allow the company to create its own R&D facilities and production inside the Life Science Park Mengeš," Lek said.

Judges and prosecutors to get EUR 600 gross bonus from January

LJUBLJANA - Attending a general assembly of the Association of Judges, Prime Minister Robert Golob announced the plan to set up a special judiciary pay tier within the single public sector system. To show that it is serious about this, the government decided to introduce an immediate EUR 600 gross bonus in nominal terms for judiciary officials. The monthly bonus will be put in place from 1 January and both judges and prosecutors are expected to be entitled to it.

Union and govt reach agreement on kindergarten assistant teachers' pay rise

LJUBLJANA - Government negotiators and the SVIZ trade union of teachers reached an agreement on an estimated 12-13% pay rise for kindergarten assistant teachers late on Monday. If the government approves the agreement, the protest rally planned for Saturday will not take place. Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik said last night that the government negotiators were happy with the outcome.

Healthier diet top priority for new Strategic Council on Nutrition

LJUBLJANA - The Strategic Council on Nutrition, a new government advisory body, held its maiden session, unveiling plans to craft long-term measures for better nutrition and act as coordinator of hitherto fragmented nutrition policy. There will be no coercion, the focus will be on raising awareness, council members said. "By bringing different sectors together we'll be able to create the best solutions," said Prime Minister Robert Golob.

Minister announces plans, measures after police force probe report

LJUBLJANA - Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, who is filling in as interior minister, presented some of the Interior Ministry's priorities for 2023, which include a strategy for the management of migration. She also indicated the irregularities detailed in the police force probe report would have consequences. Ajanović Hovnik did not explicitly deny she would be willing to take over as interior minister to succeed Tatjana Bobnar, who resigned in December.

Rosana Kolar becomes Woman Engineer of the Year

LJUBLJANA - Rosana Kolar, aircraft engineer at Adria Tehnika and mechanical engineering graduate, won this year's Woman Engineer of the Year award. She is one of the very few women working in passenger aircraft maintenance in Slovenia. The IRT3000 magazine and the marketing company Mediade with partners awarded the title for the fifth year in a row to inspire young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

SDS demands debate on healthcare situation

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) demand an emergency session of the National Assembly to discuss what they call a catastrophic situation in healthcare. The SDS deputy group has prepared recommendations, including the recommendation for a bill on emergency measures that the National Assembly should urge the government to draft.

SDS claims assault on MP Grims resulted in "atypical pneumonia"

LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS) dismissed police findings that there had been no physical contact when MP Branko Grims was allegedly assaulted by a passer-by in late October. The party said this was an attempt to downplay a physical assault on an MP "just because he comes from the ranks of the opposition." They assert he suffered "documented health consequences, including atypical pneumonia" after being infected during the assault.

Hungarian minority organisation gets new leader

LENDAVA - The Pomurje Hungarian Self-Governing Community (PMSNS) got a new president on Monday evening, with Dušan Orban succeeding Ferenc Horvath, the minority's representative in the National Assembly. Unrivalled, Orban was appointed in a unanimous vote at the first meeting of the organisation's new council.

Slovenian industry with a slight uptick in November

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian industrial output increased 0.7% in November on a monthly level, largely due to an uptick in manufacturing and supply of energy, gas and steam. Total turnover was up by 4.9% month-on-month, fresh data from the Statistics Office shows.

Chemistry Institute spearheading effort to reduce amount of plastic in Mediterranean Sea

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Institute of Chemistry will coordinate a major EU-sponsored innovation action project seeking ways to reduce the amount of plastic in the Mediterranean. The Remedies project will bring together 23 partners from 12 countries and is worth EUR 9.15 million.

Alleged head of Slovenian Kavač Clan cell pleads not guilty

LJUBLJANA - The pre-trial hearings for alleged members of the Slovenian cell of the Montenegrin Kavač Clan came to a close, with the cell's suspected leader Klemen Kadivec pleading not guilty. The prosecution offered 12 years and a half in prison and a EUR 400,000 fine if he pleaded guilty. One of the 22 alleged clan members pleaded guilty and became a protected witness in December. The trial will start in two weeks.

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