french nurses take up baton in week of health strikes (1/22/2002 8:51:00 am)
paris, jan 22 (afp) - french nurses went on strike tuesday to demand pay increases, on a second straight day of disruption for the country's health service.
unions representing some 47,000 self-employed nurses said they expected between 70 and 80 percent of their members to take part in the strike, and called for a protest march in the afternoon to the employment and solidarity ministry in paris.
some school and hospital nurses also stopped work for the day.
unions said they want a package of 230 million euros (202 million dollars) to augment the fees and allowances paid to the self-employed nurses, many of whom work up to 70 hours a week and travel long distances to see their patients.
talks with employment and solidarity minister elisabeth guigou were scheduled for tuesday evening.
on monday unions repesenting 780,000 hospital ancillary staff called for a day of protest, demanding the creation of 80,000 new jobs to accompany the introduction in france of the reduced 35 hour week. however the impact on hospitals was very limited.
more disruption was expected wednesday, when family doctors are due to stage a "no doctor day" and close their practices for 24 hours. they will be joined by some specialists, ambulance drivers, dentists and emergency workers.
the country's 60,000 self-employed general practitioners are demanding higher fees for consultations and home visits.
a package worth 732 million euros (644 million euros) has been offered by the social security fund cnam, and the second largest doctors' union was to hold more talks with the fund's management later tuesday.
the protests in the health service come three months ahead of elections in france, a propitious time for pressing home concessions from the government.
a majority of the population -- as well as political parties of both left and right -- have expressed support for the doctors.
copyright 2002 agence france-presse. all rights reserved.
yes, the nursing shortage, lack of students entering the profession and workplace conditions are universal themes.