Doctors and nurses drive wave of strikes set to hit Portugal

in News · 22-02-2018 13:58:00 · 0 Comments
Doctors and nurses drive wave of strikes set to hit Portugal

Portugal looks set to be swept by a wave of strikes, demonstrations and protests, by professionals of various sectors including teachers, doctors, nurses and public prosecutors, over the coming months.

The country’s teachers have pledged more strike action for March, while doctors have said they may strike in April.
Nurses initially gave the country’s Health Ministry until the end of this week to further negotiations over pay and working conditions, or said they too will be staying home, but on Thursday morning confirmed a national two-day strike set for 22 and 23 March.
Unions representing nurses have accused the Health Ministry of “failing to fulfil its promises”, and gave it until the end of this week for negotiations to upturn, or threatened further strikes. Among their demands are a 35-hour work week from July, overtime payment, and the payment of a €150 supplement for nurses with specialist functions, which should have come into play from January.
At the start of this year the country’s doctors had already waged similar action.
Back in January Portugal’s doctors said that they would consider strike action should their demands fail to be taken on board. A lack of progress and concrete proposals from the health ministry in the meantime has seen them reiterate the threat of action.
Two years of toing and froing and two national strikes in the meantime has done little to move negotiations along, pushing the doctors to the brink. The government is now faced with a new three-day paralysation which could be staged at the start of April.

A final round of negotiations between the doctors and the health minister has been scheduled for 8 March.
“We are very concerned that we have not yet been made any concrete proposal by the ministry. A three-day strike is an increasingly possible scenario” said Jorge Roque da Cunha, secretary general of the Independent Medical Association (SIM), for whom the outcome of the next meeting will dictate what happens next.
João Proença, of the National Doctors Federation (Fnam), also expressed little faith in the negotiations.
“After two years nothing has been approved. It is a pseudo-negotiation, in which nothing happens. We continue without tenders, with supply staff covering health centres and hospitals and doctors without any motivation given the situation”, he said.
The doctors’ main demands are the launch of tenders for the placement of young doctors, a reduction from 18 to 12 hours a week in emergency service, returning to 1,500 patients per family doctor - similar to before the troika - instead of the current 1,900, the revision of salary grids with a return to the 35-hours work week with the option of 40 hours with overtime.
The Fnam also wants to discuss the medical internship diploma already promulgated by the President of the Republic.
Should the two sets of health professionals – doctors and nurses – take action at coinciding times, it could grind the country’s public health service to a standstill, although doctors dismissed suggestions of planned joint action.
Aggravating the scenario are the country’s teachers, who will be striking between 13 and 16 March. Their protest will take place in phases, by region, convened by 10 different unions including the National Federation of Teachers (Fenprof) and the National Federation of Education (FNE).
Portugal’s public prosecutors have also put strike action back on the table after calling it off last year. It comes after the Union of Magistrates of the Public Prosecutor’s Office said that the Government’s most recent proposals to change their professional status is unacceptable, and said it is willing to wage a “war without barracks”.


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