Health workers across France hit the streets in protest on Tuesday June 30 against stagnant wages and the lack of adequate staff and infrastructure in hospitals. This was the second round of nationwide protests by health workers in the last few weeks. The call for Tuesday’s mobilisation was given by major trade unions, including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), along with health workers collectives like L’Inter-Urgences and Collectif Inter-Hôpitaux.
Health workers in the country have heavily criticised the consultation process – Ségur de la santé – initiated by the French government on May 25 following the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in France, on its proposed health sector reforms – ‘Ma santé 2022’ or ‘My health 2022’.
Following the protests on Tuesday, CGT stated that president Emmanuel Macron’s government has introduced the ‘Ségur de la Santé’ process like a business seminar aimed at reaffirming the merits of its project ‘My health 2022’, which involves reducing public hospitals and the transfer of health care services to the private sector.
“Obviously, a few announcements will be made in response to demands concerning material and human resources as well as the increase in wages. However, they have not lived up to the demands made by health personnel for over 18 months of mobilisation. They are even being viewed as a cold shower in light of the expectations aroused by Emmanuel Macron’s announcements, in particular on the revaluation of wages and careers, investment in buildings and equipment, etc,” added CGT.
The CGT has demanded that the government should, without further delay, announce an increase in the number of available hospital beds, as necessary for the proper functioning of hospitals. It has also called for the emergency recruitment of 100,000 hospital staff and 200,000 for the EHPAD (old-age care centers), along with a general revaluation of the staff salaries.
Health workers in France, particularly those in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, have been on strike since the spring of 2019, demanding an increase of EUR 300 in the monthly salary of emergency staff. They have also called for fresh recruitments to meet staff shortages, and an end to cuts in the number of hospital beds and other medical facilities. French health workers, ravaged by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the insensitivity of the government, had staged protests across the country earlier on June 16, as well.