Doctors in hospital corridor
Image: Carlos M. Almeida/ Lusa

Doctors syndicate puts government on notice

Will strike unless it sees “concrete, serious, responsible” proposal in two weeks time

SIM, Portugal’s syndicate of independent doctors has warned today that it will be going on strike if the government does not present a “concrete, serious and responsible proposal” on salary scales by the end of June.

Despite all the willingness that the union has shown, trying to avoid as much as possible the use of forms of protest such as strikes, which harm people who already have great difficulties in access to health care, the truth is that if there is no concrete proposal, there will be no other solution than to develop this type of protest,” syndicate president Jorge Roque da Cunha told Lusa.

According to SIM, last year a protocol was signed between the government and unions in which there was a commitment to reach agreement by June 30, 2023, in relation to a number of points, namely salary increases.

Roque da Cunha stressed that his union has been waiting “with great patience and willingness to reach an agreement” with the Ministry of Health, because a strike “is the ultimate form of protest”.

“We hope that the government will do in these final 15 days what it has not been done in the last 300” he said.

SIM hopes that (further) “disturbance in the National Health Service is avoided”, but a strike is most definitely “on the table” if the government doesn’t shape up.

Roque da Cunha told Lusa that over the last few months, SIM has avoided a strike “as much as possible”, but if doctors are pushed into one, “the government will be responsible, since it didn’t take advantage of the very serious desire (by doctors) to reach an agreement”.

“We did not strike during the negotiation period, we expect a reasonable proposal,” he stressed.

SIM stresses that what it regards as a “concrete, serious, responsible” proposal should at least be able to “recover the purchasing power lost in the last 10 years, so that doctors in the SNS State health system “can somehow be comparatively competitive with the private sector“, not only with regard to salaries, but also with working conditions and investment in equipment and facilities”.

The other union in the sector, FNAM (national federation of doctors), has already announced its members will be striking on July 5 and 6, claiming that the government has “still not presented a proposal for wage increases less than a month before the end of negotiations”.

Source material: LUSA