Bulletin #19: A rising tide of health workers' strikes

This fortnight  

Protests and strikes by health workers all over the world have marked the first couple of months of 2022. Reacting to long-standing issues in the health system and rampant inflation, health workers in Turkey continue to persevere in their struggle for fair working conditions in spite of being ignored and oppressed by the government.

Nurses, physiotherapists, lab workers, pharmacists and other health workers have organized strikes in Sri Lanka, Slovenia, and Australia as well. They all ask to be treated and paid fairly, and to receive much-deserved recognition for their efforts during the pandemic.

Health workers are fighting for better health systems for all. However, in many places their appeals and warnings are still not taken seriously. The Norwegian government insists on its plan to shut down the country’s largest emergency hospital in Oslo, despite opposition from patients and workers.

On the international level, rich countries continue to avoid serious discussions about equitable access to Covid-19 medical products. Notably, the EU insists on its nominal commitment to vaccine equity, but keeps the TRIPS waiver proposal at arm’s length, protecting Big Pharma’s interests.

European leaders are still throwing sand in the public’s eyes as they come up with alternatives to the version of the waiver requested by more than 100 co-sponsors at the WTO. This was the case with their statements during the EU - AU Summit in Brussels, as well as with their work in a small group of WTO members discussing a geographically limited application of the TRIPS waiver.

One of the rich countries’ arguments against the waiver is an alleged deficit of production capacities in the Global South. Yet, recent reports show that countries in the Global South are equipped to support the pandemic response. More on this in Data Speaks.

In our video interview, we meet Roman Vega, new Global Coordinator of the People’s Health Movement, to discuss what lies ahead for health movements in 2022.

Turkish health workers intensify protests amid soaring inflation and poor working conditions

The Turkish Medical Association (TMA) and other health workers’ organizations organized country-wide industrial actions on February 8. This is part of a wave of workers’ uprisings against rising living expenses and soaring inflation

European Union prefers corporate profits over the health of people across the world

By showing reluctance on the patent waiver on COVID-19-related products even after the majority of its population is vaccinated, the EU leadership has once again taken the side of Big Pharma and perpetuated vaccine apartheid

Twist in TRIPS waiver negotiations raises eyebrows

A small group of WTO members has been discussing a watered-down version of the TRIPS waiver, which would leave most of the Global South’s production capacities unused

Short reads

Health workers in Slovenia go on strike

Members of the three largest healthcare trade unions in Slovenia joined a strike of warning for fairer remuneration and professional equity in the sector

Nurses in Australia’s New South Wales strike over wages, staff shortage

Thousands of nurses and midwives went on a day-long strike in Australia’s most populous New South Wales State to protest stagnating wages and unsafe staffing conditions

Sri Lankan health workers launch strike over pay disparities

Health workers in Sri Lanka have been staging demonstrations and strikes since November last year to draw attention to the issue of salary anomalies

Protest mount against Norwegian government’s plan to shut down Ullevål Hospital in Oslo

The Norwegian government has been pushing its plan to shut down the country’s largest emergency hospital located in the city, overriding the Oslo City Council’s opposition and disregarding appeals from the city’s residents

Video: The clarion call of Health for All!

Roman Vega, Global Coordinator of People’s Health Movement, talks to Peoples Dispatch about the achievements and the challenges faced by the movement in 2021, the path ahead and major priorities.

Data speaks

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