The growing global movement of nurses and health care workers

Throughout the world, nurses and other health care workers are engaging in a growing wave of strikes and protests against understaffing, exhausting workloads and the erosion of the living standards by the sharp rise in inflation.

In Germany, more than 2,500 nurses at North Rhine-Westphalia university hospitals have been on strike for more than a month over staffing levels and pay. “We simply can’t take any more,” a striking nurse in Essen said. “We come home physically and psychologically broken—this must finally come to an end.”

Striking nurses and health care workers around the world [Photo: WSWS]

In the United Kingdom, 40,000 Scottish nurses at public and private facilities are planning to walk out if their demands for a 10 percent raise are not met. Hundreds of thousands of National Health Service (NHS) workers in the UK also want to join the “summer of discontent” work stoppages by railway workers, teachers and other public sector workers.

In France, health care workers are walking out across the country after being denied bonuses. This follows last month’s strike by 11,000 Spanish doctors and nurses in Madrid and a nationwide strike by 20,000 doctors in Turkey demanding better wages and benefits.

In India, 20,000 nurses are striking government hospitals in Nagpur in the western state of Maharashtra. In nearby Sri Lanka, health care workers have been at the forefront of the strikes and mass protests demanding the resignation of the Rajapakse government and an end to rising prices and IMF austerity demands.

Last month, 10,000 nurses in New Zealand conducted strikes and slowdowns to demand higher pay and safe staffing levels. This followed the first stops by Australian public hospital nurses in New South Wales in more than a decade. They struck twice, in February and March, in defiance of government bans and remain locked in a dispute.

In the United States, 350 nurses, respiratory therapists and radiology technicians at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, have been on strike for more than two weeks. Another 1,300 resident physicians at Los Angeles public hospitals—who regularly work 12-hour shifts and are paid the equivalent of barely the minimum wage—just voted overwhelmingly to strike. Last week, 15,000 nurses in Minnesota conducted a one-day strike, and tens of thousands of nurses in Michigan, New York, California, Washington and other states face contract struggles in the coming weeks and months.

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