INEM ambulance chaos as unions go on warpath

In Lisbon, a third of the city’s INEM ambulances are off the road while elsewhere the union representing INEM workers is demanding the resignation of the institute’s boss Paulo Campos.

At issue is a labour dispute over salary cuts and lack of overtime pay.

Workers claim that in some cases they have had to work 20-day turns, without any days off, writes Público.

Unrest is such that INEM staff are now calling in sick, which has resulted in seven of the capital’s 21-strong fleet being left high-and-dry at the beginning of this week.

On Sunday night, 150 rescue workers from as far afield as Porto, Coimbra and the Algarve held a nighttime vigil after which the federation of public sector workers announced national strike action could follow.

According to Público, Campos took the news in his stride, saying: “This is not a strike, nor is it a pre-warning (of one).”

Lisbon has 75 ambulances operated by firemen, he stressed – so there should be no concerns over safety.

He added that by September INEM would be hiring 85 new medical professionals.

But as Público remarked, “Campos failed to answer the question of how INEM could cope through the peak months of July and August”.

Ricardo Rocha, president of the syndicate of emergency ambulance technicians, predicts “chaos”, saying even the promise of 85 new workers falls far short of INEM’s requirements. Thus the unions involved are calling for Campos’ resignation, saying it is “the only way” their problems have a chance of being resolved, explains Diário de Notícias today.

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