Home News Portugal orders striking nurses back to work

Portugal orders striking nurses back to work

Published on 07/02/2019

Portugal’s government Thursday ordered striking nurses to return to work to maintain minimum health services.

ortugal’s government Thursday ordered striking nurses to return to work to maintain minimum health services.

“We have no other option,” Health Minister Marta Temido said after a cabinet meeting.

Temido said the week-long stoppage over pay had been “too harmful” and that legal requirements for a minimum service had not been met with hundreds of operations cancelled.

Around 1,200 operating room nurses in seven Portuguese public hospitals joined the strike, according to organisers who were pressing for higher wages, more overtime pay and the end to a freeze on promotions.

The health ministry said Monday that at least 645 operations, or 57 percent in the affected hospitals, had been postponed, leading the government to decide enough was enough.
ortugal’s national health system employs a total of around 42,000 nurses, a strike organiser said.

A previous strike saw nearly 8,000 operations cancelled or delayed between November 22 and December 31, 2018.

The nurses began their latest “surgical strike” at the beginning of the month to highlight their work conditions.

Sara Rego from the northeastern Vila Real hospital said they had hoped to hold out until the end of the month with the help of more than 780,000 euros ($890,000) in online donations.

Three more hospitals, including the country’s biggest in Lisbon, were due to join the strike from Friday as nurses grumble about monthly wages as low as 1,400 euros ($1,600) for those starting out.
rime Minister Antonio Costa had slammed the strike as “totally illegal” before announcing Tuesday that he planned to force nurses back to work via a civil requisition measure.

The stoppage comes as Portugal emerges from a period of austerity triggered by the 2007 financial crisis.
ortugal’s Communist Party, which generally backs Costa’s Socialist government, has denounced the strike’s effects on healthcare.

Some unions have spoken out against the latest action, with Ana Avoila, spokeswoman for the union federation Common Front of the Public Administration, telling AFP: “We do not recognise this kind of strike.”

The front instead called for wider industrial action on February 15 to demand higher wages, as Avoila pointed out most of Portugal’s public sector workers had endured a decade-long wage freeze.