Portugal’s nurses are to stage a two-day strike on 13 and 14 October to hammer home their demands for the reinstatement of a 35-hour working week in state healthcare units.
In a statement released at the beginning of this week, the nurses union said it was also organising a demonstration by union officials outside the Ministry of Health, pencilled in for 7 October.
The union said it was tired of “inconclusive” meetings with ministry officials and the delays in reducing its members’ working hours, after the 35-hour week was reinstated in the rest of the public sector.
The situation, it argued, is “unfair and unacceptable”, as well as endangering safety and the quality of healthcare services.
The 35-hour week is being restored for public sector workers under agreements between Portugal’s governing Socialist Party and the other groups that provide support for the minority government in parliament, the Communist Party and the Left Bloc, but officials have said that the reform would have to be implemented only gradually in the health sector, for cost reasons.
The working week for public sector workers was increased to 40 hours by the previous, right-of-centre government, as part of reforms that it said were necessary under a Euro Zone bailout.