On September 13, Sunday, several thousand health workers marched in the Belgian capital Brussels, demanding massive refinancing of the health sector. The call for the march was given by a number of groups and organizations, including La Sante en Lutte, Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM) and the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB/ABVV). Participants in the rally denounced the commodification of healthcare and demanded massive refinancing of health services in the country through investments in infrastructure, increased recruitment, and a rise in the wages of health workers. An online petition has been also launched by health workers’ groups highlighting these demands.
According to reports, the police attacked the protesters at a number of places. The organizers denounced the police action against people peacefully participating in the march while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.
During the march, La Sante en Lutte reiterated the demands approved by a general assembly. These include: refinancing of healthcare with transparency in the use of the budget; a halt in the commodification of care; commitment towards more staff to ensure quality care for all; salary hike for all health professions and ending job insecurity and outsourcing of services to the private sector.
The protesters also sought improved work conditions for health workers; representation of patients and health personnel in all major decisions concerning the sector; collective reduction of working hours without loss of salary and with compensatory hires; review of supervisory standards and ending authoritarian management practices, harassment and discrimination and a decrease in the pension age, among other demands.
Following the mobilization on Sunday, La Sante en Lutte stated, ”today the message was very clear: We will no longer let them impose a deterioration in our working conditions. We will no longer let them destroy the quality of care we give to the population. We will no longer let them handle us with Excel graphs and by the prism of a market vision with deadly consequences. Health is a valuable asset that deserves this mobilization. Let’s protect this common good from the threats of privatization.”
Medics from Medecine PourLe Peuple (MPLP) and activists of the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) and the Communist Party of Belgium (PCB/CPB) joined the mobilization on Sunday and expressed their solidarity with the health workers.