October 13, 2000

Dominican doctors strike to protest firing of 400 colleagues

                  SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Doctors walked off the job
                  for a day to protest the government's firing of 400 colleagues -- the first of what
                  the country's medical association says will be a series of strikes.

                  The 150 striking doctors at Padre Billini Hospital -- who continued to treat
                  emergency cases during the 24-hour strike -- returned to work Friday.

                  President Hipolito Mejia defended the firings Friday, saying it was imprudent of
                  the previous government to hire the doctors during the transition period to his

                  He said he was unconcerned by the threat of more strikes -- the first by public
                  sector workers since he took office in August -- because his governing party had
                  many doctors who could fill vacated posts.

                  "If they abandon the hospitals, that's their problem ... we have a lot of
                  Revolutionary Party doctors," he said.

                  Mejia's administration has laid off hundreds of government employees hired
                  under the previous administration and replaced them with its own party

                  The Dominican Medical Association said the one-day strikes would continue at
                  randomly selected hospitals and culminate in a nationwide strike by the Caribbean
                  country's 10,000 doctors.

                  The next strike is planned Monday at the separate Padre Billini Psychiatric
                  Hospital, the association said.

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.