Ambulances on strike throughout Portugal

Union means to send “clear message to INEM and government” over pay demands

Ambulances today are on strike throughout Portugal.

According to the union of pre-hospital emergency technicians (STEPH), the effects of this walkout are already being keenly felt from north to south.

The intention is to give a “clear message to INEM (emergency services) and the government that workers want to see their demands met”.

Union leader Rui Lazaro told Lusa that some ambulances stopped working at midnight, others from 8am this morning.

The walkout is due to stay in place until midnight tonight.

“This is our cry of revolt, for the government to look at us, solve our problems, change the direction that the INEM has taken, so that the technicians can want to stay working in the INEM and so recruitment campaigns, which have been opened and have remained empty, can be filled,” he insisted.

The all-out strike is ‘just the beginning’. From today, ambulance workers attached to STEPH begin an overtime ban for an indefinite period.

Explains Lázaro, this was decided on the basis of “continuous and serious disrespect for labour rights of emergency medical technicians”.

The union boss told Lusa that what has been happening up to this point is that ambulance workers “fulfill normal working hours, do overtime and then the following month INEM tells (them) that they owe hours…”

As a result of “the way INEM treats its workers” more than 40 have already quit, he added.

At the beginning of this month, for example “26 technicians moved from INEM to the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection, with a salary sometimes lower than what they earn in the INEM, but they escape these (bad) conditions.” 

Lázaro did assure nonetheless that ambulance staff “will ensure the operation of means in case of disaster or in an exceptional situation”.

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