Dozens of female doctors with Peru's social security system, known as Essalud, chained themselves to the entrance of the Labor Ministry in this capital as part of a strike headed by their union for the past 28 days to demand higher pay and better working conditions.

The physicians told reporters that they came to the ministry to protest against Labor Minister Jose Villena, whom they accused of making statements against them.

The women, who carried carnations and posters, prevented the ministry's security agents from trying to break the chains with which they had bound themselves to the bars at the ministry entrance.

"We want to work with dignity," the demonstrators said.

Later, a committee of doctors met with Villena and made their demands known to him.

After the meeting, a representative of the demonstrators identified as Marlene Belleza told reporters that "nothing concrete" had been decided, but she said that the minister had promised to "speak with both parties."

"He knows that we'll continue with our measure ... while there is no definitive solution," she said, referring to the confrontation the physicians union has been having with Essalud.

The doctors are demanding an increase in their salaries, which they said are between 2,100 and 2,500 soles (about $800 to $960) per month, as well as improvements in infrastructure and health safety for their patients. EFE