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LIMA: Doctors in Peru returned to work yesterday after wresting promises of better pay from President Ollanta Humala and credited congressional leadership for helping end the 33-day-strike.
The deal was a victory for public sector workers, who have complained about stagnant pay despite Peru’s widening fiscal surplus, which swelled to 7 percent of gross domestic product in the first half of this year.
It was the first pay increase for doctors in a decade, a period in which Peru’s economy has surged about 6 percent a year.
Cesar Palomino, the head of the doctors’ union, said that while Humala’s cabinet dismissed the demands of 11,000 striking doctors, the president of congress, Victor Isla, assigned funding to increase their pay — helping the public health workers “twist the arm” of the executive branch.
“I am convinced that without the strike we wouldn’t have this deal,” said Palomino. “Victor Isla and different political parties applied critical political pressure.”
Isla, a member of Humala’s ruling Gana Peru party, wasn’t available to comment yesterday.
Humala’s influential finance minister, Luis Castilla, a Wall Street favourite, has been criticised by both doctors and teachers for resisting pay increases.
Humala has yet to negotiate a long-term deal with teachers, who were lured back to work last week with a one-time bonus of 300 soles ($116) after a month of picketing.