PRISTINA (Reuters) - Thousands of Kosovo doctors and teachers held a partial strike on Friday after the constitutional court suspended a long-debated law to increase salaries for most state workers.
Doctors treated only emergency cases and teachers did not show up for the first two teaching hours.
The state is the biggest employer in Kosovo, one of the poorest countries in Europe. State salaries average 520 euros per month compared with 370 euros in the private sector.
Parliament passed the law in February to tackle imbalances within public sector pay, but the court suspended it on Thursday following complains by the country’s ombudsman.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned Kosovo the law undermined its financial health and competitiveness.
Threats of strikes by state workers will be a major challenge for a new government expected following snap elections in October. Early this year a three-week strike by teachers over wages affected some 500,000 pupils and students.
The 120-seat parliament will hold its first session on December 26 and two biggest parties are still in talks to reach a deal on coalition.
Albin Kurti, who is set to become the next prime minister, said the public sector wages law should be replaced with one which eliminated inequalities more effectively.
“The driver of the speaker of the parliament is paid more than a school director,” he said.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but relations with its larger neighbor remain fraught.
While the IMF has said Kosovo will grow 4.2 percent this year from 4 percent last year, experts say that would not be enough to tackle unemployment of around 30 percent.
Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Philippa Fletcher