About 3,000 doctors went on strike Monday at government-run hospitals in Nicaragua to demand salary increases and better benefits.
Doctors said they will provide only emergency care during the strike. Physicians with specialties earn an average of about US$450(Ђ385) per month, while general practitioners earn about US$300(Ђ255).
Health Minister Margarita Gurdian called the demands excessive, and told local news media that they would require resources equivalent to nearly an entire year's budget for the government health system.
The doctors are among a total of about 25,000 workers in the government system. Gurdian said the strikers' wages may be docked for the time they are on strike, while Labor Minister Virgilio Guardian said the strike may be declared illegal.
A strike in 1998 lasted several weeks, resulting in a 100 percent wage increase, AP reports.