Amid a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases in France, health workers organized a demonstration outside the ministry of health in Paris on October 15, Thursday. The protesting health workers demanded increased employment through immediate hiring, a hike in wages, and improved working conditions for all staff. In light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases since last week, French president Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency in Paris on Wednesday. Protests were also held in various hospitals and healthcare centers across the country.
Ruptly reported that “in April, the French government agreed with labor unions to pay an increase of €160 per month by March 2021 to healthcare staff. Workers have since been demanding for a better hiring scheme and a general salary renewal.”
Health workers and trade unions including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) have initiated a #JeSuisÉpuiséE (I am exhausted) campaign on social media. The Inter Hôpitaux Collectif also urged parliamentarians in the country to come up with a new rigorous plan to save public hospitals, with respect to the finalization of the Social Security Finance Bill 2021 (PLFSS).
The Collectif Inter-urgences stated that “year after year, the budget allocated to health has been considerably reduced, causing tens of thousands of hospital beds to be closed, service closures, and unreplaced retirements leading to understaffing and chronic exhaustion of staff. Aging and deteriorating equipment has not been replaced. All this has been to the detriment of the quality of care which has been deteriorating, of which the patient is the main victim.”
“It has now been 19 months since a protest movement began in the hospitals, to denounce all the difficulties and aberrations that our health system is experiencing. It is the future of the hospitals and healthcare that is at stake and we must all be actors in this future. It is time for all of this to end, for the government to finally take responsibility. The hospital is collapsing before our eyes and we have to help it. We have come to a point where hospitals may be sicker than its own patients. It is time to react. A massive and lasting investment in the health system is needed, consistent with the needs,” added the Collectif.
Doctors, nurses, and other staff in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments of around 250 hospitals in France have been protesting since the spring of 2019, demanding higher wages, better work conditions, and increased funding for hospitals.
As Paris and other parts of the country witness a new spike in COVID-19 cases, authorities have announced a curfew between 9 pm and 6 am in Paris. From October 17, restrictions will be imposed in several regions, including ile-de-France, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint Etienne, and Toulouse for at least four weeks.