Doctors protest at the cuts in the centre of Malaga. SUR
It’s not just the cut in salaries that’s making hospital staff unhappy. At the same time the central government has approved an increase in the hours of a working week from 35 to 37.5 hours.
For this reason Malaga’s health unions have called for nine days of strike action. Staff from the Carlos Haya and Clínico hospitals and those working in medical centres in the Malaga-Guadalhorce area downed tools for a day on Tuesday last week.
Professional staff with fixed contracts have seen a significant cut in their wages. Those on temporary contracts (an estimated 35 per cent of the workforce in health centres in Andalucía) have had their salaries reduced by 25 per cent along with the length of their contracts being shortened to a month at a time. This affects not just doctors and nurses but hospital staff across the board, up to and including porters.
The argument given by the Junta de Andalucía’s department of health is that these cost-cutting measures are better than making staff redundant - which has happened in other autonomous regions of Spain.
Medical unions are not satisfied with this. “They are laying off staff and there are far fewer contracts with worse conditions”, they say. The president of Malaga’s ‘Sindicato Médico’, Fermín Parrondo, stresses that “they want to pay doctors 1,600 euros a month and still retain a high quality of service 365 days a year. We understand that Spain is in a difficult situation but it’s not fair that it’s always us who are the most affected by cuts”. Many doctors face an annual pay cut of 13,000 euros.
The secretary of the provincial ‘Sindicato de Enfermería’ (Satse or nurses’ union), Eugenio Pérez, believes that health chiefs want a first class health service for the price of a third rate one.
“These cuts have provoked great despondancy among our staff and this will affect the level of care patients receive. Our profession is vocational but a vocation doesn’t buy bread”, says Pérez. Nurses’ salaries’ are set to go down by between 4,500 and 7,500 euros a year.
Then and now
Doctors: Full time workers with open ended contracts earn 40,000 to 60,000, about 13,000 less thanbefore the cuts
Nurses: The cuts have reduced salaries by 4,500-7,500 a year. The average salary was 2,000 euros a month, now there are nurses working fewer hours and earning 1,000 a month
Lab technicians: Now earning 900 euros if they work 75% of full time