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Strike at Europe's largest univ. hospital

BERLIN, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Medical workers on Monday started a week-long strike at Europe's largest university hospital, the Berlin-based Charité.

Doctors from the hospital are protesting against pay squeezes and unpaid overtime hours. According to Deutsche Welle, 99 percent of the 2,200 doctors joined the strike.

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Charité employees said they put in 85,000 overtime work hours each month, mostly without receiving any monetary compensation. The doctors' wages were cut by 7.5 percent in the period from 1993 to 2002, they said. The university hospital, which combines a network of clinics across the German capital, is expected to cut more than $310 million in expenses until 2010.

The doctors want 30 percent more wages, a demand the hospital is not able to meet, director Behrend Berends said in a statement.

"That's simply impossible taking into account our financial situation."

Emergency care will continue at the hospital, officials have said.

Founded in 1710, the Charité is the medical school and university hospital of Berlin's Humboldt University and Free University -- it is the largest university hospital in Europe with 15,000 employee and 2,200 beds in 49 clinics. It treats roughly 123,000 inpatients and 900,000 outpatients a year.

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