Nurses in the Algarve are set to strike on the 24th of January in protest against non-compliance by the Regional Health Administration (ARS) and Faro Hospital in going through with the commitments these entities made to the union in September.
In addition to this standstill, which will affect units of the National Health Service across the Algarve, namely the three hospitals and the many Health Centres, the nurses have also called for “meetings with the other deputies elected by the Algarve – until now we had only met with the Socialist Party MPs”.
They also promise “new fights for February, which could have more days of strike”, according to Nuno Manjua, spokesman for the Algarve Regional Directorate of the Portuguese Nurses Union (SEP).
The agreements made back in September concerned career advancement and salary adjustments, both topics were put in writing in the pre-election period after the Portuguese Nurses Union called for a two-day strike a few days previous to the meeting.
Now, and after both entities the nurses met with having missed the deadline to carry out action to provide safety for the careers of “hundreds of nurses”, something that should have been done by the end of 2019, the nurse unionists have announced that they are going to strike because they consider themselves to have been “deceived”.
“In the case of Faro Hospital, the agreement was colleagues with Individual Employment Contracts being given the same career progression rules as those applying to colleagues with Civil Employment Contracts. This is something that is easy to do, because the process has already started with some nurses in Lagos, but the process has yet to be extended to other Algarve units,” said Nuno Manjua, on the sidelines of a press conference that the SEP held today in Faro.
On the part of ARS, the commitment “was to count the years worked prior to the imposition of salary adjustments.”
Mr. Manjua explained further: “In 2009, there was a change and in 2011, 2012 and 2013, nurses were phased into the first pay position of a new career progression. The ARS never counted the length of service prior to that time.” This means that graduate nurses beginning work when this change was first introduced have been set on the same pay scale as some nurses who have been working for the health service for decades prior to the introduction of the new system.
Furthermore, the nurses are angry at the ARS for freezing career progression, refusing to give out promotions in some instances: “There are nurses who in 2020 reach 18 years without any progression, therefore without any salary increase. The freeze has prevented the progression of many” reads the statement that was read to and delivered to journalists at today’s conference.
“Let’s see what the response the institutions give us, we are not available for these political manoeuvres, to sign a pre-election compromise and then post-election say it will be fulfilled, but to make excuses and drag it out with nothing materializing”, concluded the spokesman.