Private sector nurses outraged by lack of appreciation

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The Portuguese Nurses Union (SEP) said today that these professionals who work in private hospitals “feel indignant” because they are not valued, pointing to a good adherence to the strike that started at 08:00.

Nurses in the private sector are calling for pay rises and compensation for working out of sync.

“At the moment, nurses feel indignant, because there is an announcement of millions of profits from these private [hospital] groups that live off the disease. Users pay more and more (…) and nurses are not valued,” Isabel Barbosa, from the SEP Lisbon regional directorate, told reporters near the Lusíadas Hospital in Lisbon.

Isabel Barbosa explained that nurses have been “fighting for a year to improve the collective bargaining agreement for private hospitalization”, having shown “some openness” to reach an agreement although they consider that the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitalization (APHP) has been intransigent.

Regarding the data of the stoppage that ends at 24:00 today, the union leader signaled that at Hospital Lusíadas Lisboa there is an adhesion of 83%, while Amadora registers 60%, the same value observed at Hospital CUF Cascais.

“(…) At Hospital da Luz Lisboa all colleagues went on strike, at Luz Torres de Lisboa all went on strike, except for one colleague who is on probation,” he added.

Showing solidarity with the private hospital nurses’ strike, BE coordinator Mariana Mortágua said on the spot that “it is a very brave fight”.

“(…) Many people end up coming to the private [sector] enticed by slightly better hours (…) and when they get here what they find is precariousness: longer hours and wages far below what they thought they were going to have”, he stressed.

PCP MP Alma Rivera was also present at the rally at Lusíadas Hospital Lisbon, supporting the nurses.

The strike covers nurses from private health institutions where the collective labor agreement established between SEP and APHP applies, which includes, among others, Grupo Luz Saúde, Grupo Lusíadas Saúde, Grupo CUF and Grupo Trofa Saúde.

The strike held in March, he explained, had led to some progress on the part of the private groups, but the proposals presented by APHP in June for inclusion in the Collective Bargaining Agreement did not reach the minimum levels that would allow an agreement to be reached.

According to the SEP, despite having had an exponential increase in profits in recent years, APHP member institutions still do not value nurses.

Nurses at the private health units covered by the APHP, a universe of around 4,200 professionals, are demanding not only pay rises for all, but also that compensation for working lags be applied to nurses working shifts and at night and an increase in the value of grueling hours.

A staggered timetable is one which, while maintaining the normal daily working period unchanged, allows for the establishment, on a service-by-service basis or for a given group or groups of staff, and without the possibility of choice, of different fixed clock-in and clock-out times. So-called “off-duty hours” are those worked at night, at weekends and on public holidays.

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