“Frustrated” Algarve nurses on strike

“Frustrated” Algarve nurses on strike

Strike runs from 8am to midnight

The Algarve’s University Hospital Centre (CHUA) nurses are on strike today against the “inaction” that they have decried from regional hospital and health authorities.

The strike runs from 8am to midnight and was called at a time when nurses say they are starting to “lose hope” that their working conditions will ever improve.

As the Resident was told last month at a protest outside Portimão Hospital, the disgruntled health professionals accuse CHUA and the Administration of Algarve Health (ARS Algarve) of failing to fulfil their promises when it comes to career progression. This is an issue that sees nurses who have worked for several years – and in some cases over a decade – earning the same wages as nurses entering the job market for the first time.

“The situation is reaching its breaking point, not only because the issues aren’t being dealt with, but mostly because the institution (CHUA), which, at one point, recognised that the nurses’ entire employment years should be counted (for career progression), is the same institution which now does not want to recognise it and is taking money away from nurses,” Guadalupe Simões from the national nurses’ union (SEP) told the Resident at the protest.

Some nurses are said to have been counting the days until the end of Portugal’s State of Emergency was declared so that they could hand in their nurse’s outfits.

“Health professionals could not even resign during the State of Emergency. As soon it was over, several CHUA nurses resigned. This is telling of the working conditions that do not exist,” Nuno Manjua from the regional delegation of the union told Renascença radio.

“It is completely frustrating. It seems like we’re stuck in the same spot,” Portimão A&E nurse Ana Filipa told the radio station, adding that there are cases of nurses working 25 hours in just two days.

This leads many nurses to leave the public sector for the private sector or emigrate.

“I have two friends who work in Switzerland, where they receive €5,000 (per month) and spend around €2,000 on rent plus all the other costs. The issue is that while I save €100, they save €1,000,” the nurse lamented.

She added that she has “thought seriously” about quitting but has not done so because she loves her job. However, her stagnant salary remains an issue as Ana Filipa stresses that she has two master’s degrees, a specialisation course and a post-graduate degree.

“At the moment, I should be making €200 more than I do since 2019,” the nurse said.

Nuno Manjua added: “We’re left with the feeling that nurses were called heroes before and now, when they are needed less, they are disposable.”

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By Michael Bruxo
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