Image: Lusa (archive)

Nursing union calls overtime strike until New Year

“Response capacity of health service worsens day-by-day, harming all Portuguese people”

Portugal’s Democratic Union of Nurses of Portugal (Sindepor) has announced a strike over overtime work in November and December to demand the immediate opening of negotiations with the government on a career path that corrects inequalities.

The strike has been called for between 00:00 on November 3 and 00:00 on January 1, covering the public sector throughout the country, Sindepor says in a statement delivered today.

“The response capacity of the health service is worsening day by day, harming all Portuguese people, whether they are SNS (State Health Service) professionals or not. We have no doubt that, with more satisfied workers, the quality of the health service response increases and nurses are the largest professional class in this service,” Sindepor president Carlos Ramalho said in the statement.

The union leader went on that “in this context and in the face of the Ministry of Health’s total inability to even listen” to nurses’ problems, these health professionals have been forced to go on strike.

“We have regular contact with nurses in hospitals and primary healthcare centres. They’re tired, angry and demotivated, and it’s an increasingly ageing class, which has led to a clear increase in absenteeism.

“Against this backdrop, our strike (ban on overtime) at least allows them not to be forced to work overtime, overloaded as they are with the hours they have been working over the rest of the year,” he explained.

Among the demands associated with the ban, Sindepor points to “the immediate integration of all nurses with valid work contracts into the staff of public institutions” and the fulfilment of so-called “safe appropriations” through the immediate hiring of nurses, as well as “the effective consecration of the autonomy of institutions to hire”.

The union also calls for the regularisation and opening of recruitment drives in all categories –  namely nurses, specialist nurses and nurse managers, as well as  management positions –  “together with the fair legal application of the ‘points count’ for all nurses for the purposes of career progression”.

For Sindepor, “there is also an urgent need to immediately open negotiations with the Ministry of Health to negotiate a nursing career that applies equally, that values the profession, corrects inequalities, injustices and current discrimination, that includes compensation for the risk, rapid wear and tear inherent in the profession, namely through the awarding of a risk allowance and specific conditions for access to retirement without penalties”.

Sindepor is also calling for “a fair, transparent and feasible performance evaluation model that takes into account the specificities of the profession and promotes the professional and salary development of nurses”, thus contributing to strengthening the health service.