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Health service pharmacists call three days of strike action

Pharmacists syndicate to continue talks with ministry in meantime

Portugal’s SNS health service  pharmacists have delivered ‘pre-strike notices’ for three days in June (22, 27 and 29), adding that they will continue talks with the ministry, “provided they are productive” in the meantime.

The notice explains that the first strike will cover all Portuguese territory (the mainland and autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores); the second (June 27) it will take place in the districts of Beja, Evora, Faro, Lisbon, Portalegre, Santarém, Setúbal and the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira and the last is proposed for the districts of Braga, Bragança, Porto, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Aveiro, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Guarda, Leiria and Viseu.

The National Union of Pharmacists stresses that talks with the health minister have been, up till now, “an absolute disappointment”, describing health minister Manuel Pizarro as “lacking political will” to resolve the situation. The “situation” involving, like all public sector disputes, wages and conditions.  

Explains union president Henrique Reguengo: “People only talk about nurses leaving (the State health service), doctors leaving, but we have a thousand pharmacists in the health service who are also leaving”.

“Everything that is really important and that needs to be negotiated is completely blocked”, he tells Lusa. “We still have absolutely insufficient staff, and we still have a pay table that dates from 1999”.

“There is obviously a complete willingness to talk and to resolve things and find solutions, but we need the other side to be willing (…) to negotiate”.

Some of the union’s demands include the upgrading of the profession, with the consequent review and updating of salary scales in relation to pharmacists’ academic and professional qualifications; the full counting of length of service in the health service for the purposes of promotion and career progression, and the contractual hiring of pharmacists already practising in public services,  but with precarious contracts.

Portugal’s health service pharmacists have staged strikes previously (in October and November last year), for  which there was over 90% adherence.

Source material: Lusa