SANTIAGO – Chile’s National Health Workers Federation, or Fenats, said on Tuesday that 12,000 health workers went on a strike nationwide for the second straight day to demand improvements in working conditions and to complain about the lack of supplies in hospitals and clinics.
“Workers from close to 80 hospitals joined ranks across the country. We’re complaining about the bad working conditions we have to put up with these days – for example, in the federation many of the employees work without a contract, only for professional fees,” the president of Fenats, Oscar Riveros, told Efe.
The union leader said that health workers are the civil servants with “the lowest wages in Chile and we have little chance of raising them.”
“A person at the entry level takes an average of 15 years to get a promotion to the next level, or in the worst of cases they stay in the same position until they retire,” Riveros said.
The union, which includes healthcare assistants, technicians, professionals and administrators, said that it held a meeting a week ago with Health Minister Carmen Castillo, but since then they have had no concrete response from the government.
The federation, which has more than 14,000 members in all Chile, also warned that the lack of supplies and personnel in medical centers is “worrying.”
The Fenats president said that “this is not only about money, but about infrastructure and personnel. Today we have an amount of personnel that does not meet the people’s needs.”
During the day, the public servants marched through various districts of the Chilean capital, and on Wednesday, huge demonstrations by healthcare workers are expected up and down the country.