Health workers in Argentina protest for PPE, pay hikes

Buenos Aires, May 7 (efe-epa).- Unions representing Argentina’s health-care professionals mounted nationwide protests Thursday to demand personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased pay to compensate for the additional demands placed on them by the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 40 groups joined in the mobilization, which was organized by the 30,000-strong Fesprosa health union and other elements of organized labor.

While defying the lockdown’s ban on public gatherings, marchers in Buenos Aires wore masks and observed social distancing.

Demonstrations also took place in the provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe, San Luis, San Juan, Tucuman and Chaco, all located in the central and northern parts of the country.

Health care workers account for more than 870, or 17 percent, of the 5,208 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Argentina, and for nine of the 273 fatalities from the illness.

“We have to be prepared and for that the central issue is that the human resources are in the necessary conditions to be able to provide health services to the population,” Fesprosa said in a statement.

The union’s president, Fernanda Boriotti, told Efe that her members’ “principal concerns are that the national plan for worker protection is implemented, with equipment of adequate quantity and quality, that health personnel are tested quickly, and that salary negotiations are opened in the provinces because the pandemic is being used as a excuse to freeze pay.”

She pointed out that most medical professionals are working at more than one location, leaving them “overexposed” to Covid-19 and vulnerable to infection due to their own fatigue.

Boriotti, a biochemist, said that doctors and nurses in remote provinces do not have enough PP.

The medical workers’ protests came after groups in this capital took to the streets on Wednesday to push demands that the government do more to address the harm done by the quarantine to an economy already battered by inflation and high unemployment.

Teachers and their supporters demonstrated outside the municipal legislature in Buenos Aires against a proposed emergency ordinance freezing public employee pay. EFE cca/dr

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