This week, Portugal’s nurses have vowed to stage two days of strike action, to take place at the end of this month, on 30 and 31 March.
The nurses union is demanding a 35-hour working week for all nurses, the reinstatement of payment of salary supplements, and the payment of 700,000 hours’ outstanding overtime.
Union president, José Carlos Martins, said a meeting will be held next Wednesday, 22 March, with the Health Minister, which will be “determining” as to whether the strike goes ahead or not.
The nurses reportedly want the Minister to draw up a calendar for “various areas of negotiations”.
Speaking to Lusa News Agency, the union chief explained that the action would take place over 40 hours covering five shifts: from 8am on 30 March until midnight on 31 March.
The decision to stage strike action was made by the SEP Portuguese Nurses Union during a meeting on Monday, in which it approved “an expanded plan for forms of action.”
Two of the nurses’ main demands are the reinstatement of paying salary supplements – otherwise known as ‘quality hours’ – in the next State Budget, and the establishing of normative instruments that allows the payment of the 700,000 hours of outstanding overtime.
Nurses also want a 35-hour working week for all professionals, as at present the regime does not yet cover nurses on individual work contracts.
On the other hand, the Union accuses the Ministry of Health of discriminating negatively against several categories of health professionals by imposing changes in the payment of overtime to only cover professionals who work in the external emergency services and intensive care units.
Nurses are further calling for the admission of more nurses into the fields of primary care, continuous care, palliative care and mental health care.
Should it go ahead the nurses’ strike, which will, as usual, require minimum services being fulfilled, could affect appointments, exams and surgeries.
The country’s nurses last staged strike action over two days in October last year.