Conflicts & War

Panama nurses protest against breach of salary promises

Panama City, Oct 27 (EFE).- Panama’s nurses union protested again on Wednesday against breaches in salary promises and poor working conditions, exacerbated by the pandemic.

It claimed that the government is not complying with salary payment agreements, saying that it has said “it has no way to comply.”

“They say that there is no way to fulfill [it] because there are many of us. We do not understand how the authorities say publicly that it is too much money (…) The human resources needed to serve a population cannot be one or two,” the president of the National Association of Nurses of Panama (Anep), Ana Reyes, told Efe.

Around 300 nursing workers marched peacefully through the main streets of Panama City holding banners and chanting to demand better conditions.

The protest culminated in front of the headquarters of the presidency, in the Old Town of the capital, where they waited to present their claims.

“The conditions with which we are working (…), with which we serve the population, are not the best: there is a lack of supplies, medicines, buildings under construction that are already deteriorating…” added Reyes.

The union has been denouncing job insecurity for more than a year and demanding an improvement in conditions, as well as compliance with work agreements made with the government.

During the pandemic, in which the State hired nursing personnel to tackle the emergency, workers reported delays in the payment of several fortnightly wages, which were paid back gradually over the following months.

However, the situation worsened this year causing an almost 48-hour strike nationwide, which ended after reaching an agreement with the authorities that included the permanent contracts of those personnel hired during the pandemic and the establishment of specific dates for payment of salary debts.

“The claims remain the same. In April we reached an agreement, which is not being complied with. We continue to feel discriminated against because it was agreed that the payments would begin,” said Reyes.

“We are not demanding anything extra, only that they comply with what is legal,” added the union leader.

The president of the Anep said that if there is no satisfactory response, they will continue with the demonstrations.

“And if there is no answer, because we are not going to reach December in this situation, then we will go on strike. We do not want to reach that but we have to raise our voices,” she added. EFE


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