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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ambulances Prepare to Work to Rule

Moscow's ambulance doctors are threatening to begin a work-to-rule protest March 1, refusing to pick up dead bodies or to drive decrepit vans to reach patients, union leaders said Wednesday.

To force the ambulance service to negotiate better working conditions, ambulance crews will continue to provide urgent medical care as usual, but will refuse to use vans which are out of order, said Levon Akopov, chairman of the city ambulance service collective.

The action is intended to force the administration of the station to negotiate permanent contracts, better working conditions and regular salary increases for the doctors, Akopov said.

In its resolution adopted Monday, representatives of the service staff said the doctors would continue to register deaths of victims of crime and accidents, but would not collect their bodies.

"There are no regulations telling ambulance doctors to pick up and transport dead bodies," Akopov said. "We used to do it as a favor to the city, but now let the police or other services do that."

The doctors justified their refusal to use poorly maintain vehicles, saying problems with the vans cause long delays, irritating patients and adding to the stress of the job.

He said the chief doctor of the ambulance system, Nikolai Pirotsky, has refused to sign a collective agreement and guarantee social protection for all the service staff but proposed individual contracts instead.

Akopov said Pirotsky has begun introducing the new system of employment without the consent of the staff, thus violating Russian labor legislation.

Pirotsky could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.