French health workers hit the streets, demand that government save public health system

Successive governments in France have weakened the public health care system through systematic underfunding and neglect

June 17, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
France health workers Protests
A hundred thousand people joined the health workers’ march in Paris on June 16, Tuesday.

Health workers organized massive demonstrations in Paris and other cities across France Tuesday June 16 to demand that the government save public hospitals. The call for mobilization was given by Inter-urgences and Collectif-inter-hôpitaux, and supported by several unions, including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and Solidaires.

According to reports, a hundred thousand people marched in Paris alone, along with tens of thousands in other French cities like Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Lille and Nantes, among others. Protesters denounced the government led by Emmanuel Macron for weakening the public health care system through steady and systematic neglect and underfunding.

Collectif-inter-hopitaux stated, “For over a year, hospital staff have been warning about the lack of means in public hospitals and their difficulties in carrying out their care tasks. For over a year, they have been asking for a hospital emergency plan to guarantee the quality and safety of patient care. Since then, the COVID-19 crisis has shown (if some were not convinced) the essential place of the public hospital and the absolute need to have staff and material means to meet the health needs of the population.”

The staff in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments of around 250 hospitals in France began their strike in the spring of 2019, demanding an increase of EUR 300 in the monthly salary of emergency staff, as well as fresh recruitments to meet staff shortages, and ending the cuts in hospital beds and other medical facilities.

Collectif-inter-hopitaux stated that following the year-long strike by the hospital emergency staff, the president had promised a massive plan for hospitals on March 20. “But we are still waiting for the government’s encrypted announcement and the response to our essential demands for the survival of the public hospital,” the group said.

The French Communist Party (PCF) also expressed solidarity with the health workers’ mobilization. PCF leaders Fabien Roussel and Pierre Laurent joined the demonstrations in Paris on Tuesday. Activists of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF) also joined the marches in various parts of the country.