The unions argue that they are “overloaded with hours” and that the management “cannot force them to do even one more”.
About 80 doctors from Mataró Hospital have formally initiated a ‘guard strike’ to reclaim improvements in rest and pay conditions. of these overtime hours. The president of the Metges de Cataunya union and vice-president of the hospital’s works council, Jordi Cruz, explains that physicians will be limited to their contracted working hours, as well as the bag of mandatory on-call hours, but they will not do any more of the voluntary ones that are done quite regularly to cover shifts. The effects on the patients will not be immediate, but they do warn that there are services that are stretched to the limit, such as the ICU. There, Cruz explains, all the doctors are “overloaded” with hours and the management “cannot force them to do even one more”. Throughout the Catalan health system the drums of war are already beating and a strike is not ruled out.
The workers’ representatives reproach the management for its negotiating attitude and believe that it is “very serious” that the Consorci Sanitari del Maresme “does not care too much about dispensing with an essential service”. Instead of negotiating, Cruz explains, “the answer is that they will close the ICU and send patients to Can Ruti.”
From the doctors’ union they also admit that the effects, however, will not be immediate, and in practice there is a bulk of physicians who will still continue to be on call. Those under 45 years of age because in some cases they have not used up the maximum number of mandatory hours. The older ones because they would not have communicated the measure in due time and form.
“Our legal advice is evaluating what to do to force us to work what is not contracted,” defends Cruz. For the time being, physicians who are not completely exempted from on-call duty will continue to do so in order to avoid legal problems. The hospital’s management, for its part, assures that the service is “guaranteed” in emergencies and scheduled activity.
In addition, the rest of the services have been “reorganized” to avoid affecting patients and negotiation “remains open” with the aim of finding a solution that satisfies the parties, according to the Consorci Sanitari del Maresme. This week the parties must meet again and the works council says that the meeting will be “key”.
Doctors set two “red lines” in the negotiation that management does not accept for the time being. One is that the day off the day after an on-call day should count as a working day worked and paid. The other is that on-call hours be “better paid”. The workers ask that they be 50% more than the ordinary hour.