SANTIAGO – Hundreds of Chilean doctors marched in this capital on Wednesday to support striking public health workers who are demanding a 4 percent pay increase instead of the 3.2 percent hike offered by the administration of President Michelle Bachelet, herself a physician.
“We ask our colleague and president to intercede in this and quickly resolve it, because this is causing a great impact on society,” Santiago medical association head Izkia Siches told EFE.
The participating doctors marched from the association’s offices to La Moneda, the presidential palace, where they handed over a letter requesting that Bachelet re-think her government’s stance.
The leader of the national medical association, Enrique Paris, stressed that while doctors are not on strike, they stand with the nurses, orderlies and other support personnel who have walked off the job.
“We believe that the strike has to end, and for it to end there must be dialogue. And that can only be accomplished if the government sits down to talk. We want this to end quickly so patients don’t continue to suffer the lack of medical attention,” Paris said.
The strike, now in its fourth week, has forced the postponement of more than 7,000 surgical procedures and upwards of 30,000 office visits, he said.
Putting an end to the strike is “urgent,” Bachelet said following a meeting with her Cabinet to finalize a new public-employee pay proposal for submission to Congress.
“We have made responsible and serious proposals to all involved parties in accord with the current economic possibilities of our country,” the president said.