Healthcare workers are struggling around the world

17 June, 2020

Healthcare workers of Lyon yesterday

Yesterday, while a general strike of hospitals was taking place in France, strikes proliferated throughout hospitals and nursing homes on all continents.

Healthcare and maintenance workers in hospitals and nursing homes around the world are on strike. Only yesterday, strikes broke out in Bolivia in America, Nigeria and Uganda in Africa, Italy and Bosnia in Europe, waves of strikes are ongoing in the hospitals in Pakistan and India in Asia and Australia in Oceania. And this is far from a comprehensive list, as several other countries were affected yesterday.

Strikes break out at first against the dire conditions under which workers in the sector find themselves due to the Covid pandemic: lack of protective equipment, delayed wages in many countries… But in many other strikes, the struggle is already underway against the consequences of a progressive dismantling of the public health system that aggravated and precipitated this global pandemic crisis.

Evolution of hospital beds for every 1000 inhabitans.

Even in relatively unaffected countries such as Japan, working conditions for health workers have worsened by 20% during and after the peak of the epidemic. In other, more affected countries the worsening has been much greater. Decades of funding and staff cuts, closures of entire hospital floors, salary cuts and freezes presented as necessary “sacrifices” to get out of the crisis at the cost of the continued precarization of health workers and the increasing debilitation of the health of workers and the general population.

We are not only talking about Spain, Portugal or Greece in Europe. Hence the hospital strike in France. The situation and general feeling in French hospitals and residences can be summarized as Dr. Patrick Pelloux did on television:

It is a lie to say that we have enough Intensive care unit (ICU) beds, we have established resuscitation beds everywhere we could, under extremely difficult conditions thanks to the ICU specialists who did a great job. […] Congresswoman, we have been under an absolutely major crisis situation that could happen again. That’s why when we get that “it’s all right now” speech… No! It’s all wrong! When we heard that Bichat hospital, Beaujon hospital, Jean Verdi hospital, Garges hospital had been shut down, when we heard the complaints of the army health service doctors as they set up a field hospital that was needed in Mulhouse, we were talking about issues that are absolutely serious. I understand a little bit and I agree about congratulating the nation and each individual for their solidarity and “nation-making” as the president of the republic said, but there is a crisis situation that continues in the hospitals and the “Ségur de la Santé” [government plan to reform th healthcare system] is a big joke.


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