Health workers hit the streets in several Belgian cities on Thursday June 18 demanding the structural refinancing of healthcare, along with increased staff, employment guarantees, and better wages. Mobilizations were carried out in Brussels, Liège, Charleroi, Ghent, Hasselt, Sint-Truiden, Namur, and others. According to reports, 1,500 people staged a protest in front of the university hospital in Leuven (UZ Leuven). The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) also expressed solidarity with the health workers’ protest.
The PTB/PVDA stated, “the white coats have already succeeded in getting the government to swallow its two royal decrees on the requisition of personnel and the delegation of nursing procedures to untrained personnel. Everyone has seen that, where the government has shown itself incapable of properly managing the coronavirus crisis, white coats have been at the forefront of saving lives and have given their all. In this context, it is difficult for a minister to attack the healthcare sector head-on.”
“Mobilization can, therefore, lead to a victory. Already last year, after several months of action in the health sector, and under pressure from the PTB in parliament, an emergency fund for white coats was adopted. These 400 million euros make it possible to hire 4,000 people in the sector. Today, we need an XXL fund, for a structural refinancing of health care, for more staff, viable work, better wages … to provide residents and patients with the quality care they need. This is what workers and their unions are asking for and they deserve our full support in this fight,” the party added.
Médecine pour le Peuple (MPLP) also extended their support and solidarity to the protesting health workers on Thursday.
Earlier, on May 16, the staff of the Saint-Pierre University Hospital (CHU Saint-Pierre) in Brussels had held a silent protest by turning their backs to prime minister Sophie Wilmès who was visiting the hospital. They were protesting government insensitivity towards health workers during the COVID-19 emergency.