Argentina Doctors Strike, Close 600 State Hospitals

Coinciding with teacher strikes, medical professionals are on strike for two days across Argentina, forcing the shutdown of 600 state hospitals.

At least 600 hospitals across Argentina have been closed for a second day as the Trade Union Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina (Fesprosa) spearheads a 48-hour work strike “against adjustment and dismissals,” according to the union.

Nearly 30,000 doctors and healthcare professionals are refusing to go to work Wednesday and Thursday leaving 600 public hospitals closed in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Neuquen in southern Argentina and Tucuman in the north.

“Fesprosa is committed to the patients we serve in the 600 hospitals throughout the country where we practice,” said a union statement.

“We are committed to fighting for dignified health for the most vulnerable sectors of society, a fight that goes hand in hand with decent wages and and infrastructure conditions,” says Fesprosa.

According to a Fesprosa statement the union had been negotiating a new contract with the government but it was “insufficient” to workers’ needs.

“Ninety three percent of union members found it not only insufficient, but it didn’t take into account improving work conditions, or the layoffs,” said Maria Fernanda Boriotti, Fesprosa General-Secretary.

Union president Dr. Jorge Yabkowski specified in an interview with a local radio station, “The dismissals of the Mauricio Macri government from the (Buenos Aires) Hospital Posadas must stop and the workers must be rehired by the largest health center in the country and the only one that depends entirely on the national government,” said the doctor.

At least 16 medical professionals in the major public hospital that services the capital have been laid off, and fears are that at least another 85 will be let go in the coming days.

The union president added, “there is no public health without workers’ rights.” Nationwide general strikes against Macri gutting the government are commonplace.

Over the past three years, he and his administration have sent the Argentine economy into a downward spiral and the situation is so dire that Forbes Magazine recently made the evaluation that: “Argentina is one step away from the economic collapse (again),” referring to the country’s bank collapse of 2000-2002.

Not only is Fesprosa on strike but so too the major teachers’ unions, Buenos Aires Teachers Front (Suteba) and Confederation of Workers of Education (CTERA) that have been demanding improved schools and higher wages to keep pace with consumer prices that are the highest in three decades, according to Reuters.

“Our struggle is similar to the teachers,” said Dr. Yabkowski in a local interview adding that the government hasn’t responded to their strike or demands.

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