Translation: Possible thanks to TTS twitter followers, special thanks to @Dali_Moral
Another ‘white tide’ of public health workers and users in Madrid flodded the streets of the capital on Sunday morning to protest against a plan to restructure the public health sector announced by the the regional government of the Community of Madrid. The plan intends to privatise the administration of six public hospitals and 27 centres for primary care.
‘Public health must be protected not marketted’, ‘Murdering health care cuts’ and ‘They save the banks and close down the hospitals’ are some of the messages cried by thousands of people dressed in white coats marching in four columns in a rally organised against the plans of the regional government which had the main hospitals of the Community as points of departure.
After blocking the Paseo de la Castellana (a main artery of the Capital) the four columns have gathered in Plaza Cibeles at 12 noon and from here they have headed to their final destination at Puerta del Sol where the regional government has its seat.
Along the rally protesters have been demanding the resignation of the Regional Health Minister, Mr Javier Fernández-Lasquetty. Next Monday Mr Fernández Lasquetty is meeting the Coordinating Committee of Health Care Professionals to ask the Committee representatives for specific proposals that will allow the government to save 533 millions of euros to be cut in the regional health care budget. Also on Monday at 8:30 am it will take place a meeting between the Directorate for Human Resources and CSIF (a Union of Public Servants) together with the Sectorial Committee for several Union Workers (SATSE, CC.OO., CSIT-UP, UGT, AMYTS y USAE) who will present to the Regional Ministry their proposals for reducing public spending.
Despite these meetings, health care users and workers have emphasized that protests will continue and new actions are programmed such as a demonstration on the 19th of December called by the Sectorial Committee for the unions. A rally against the so-called “Sustainability Plan” will march from the Rayo Vallecano football stadium to the seat of the Assembly of Madrid. Another action planned for the 20th of December involves a sit-in in front of the building of the Health Care Ministry at the time a meeting of the Inter-territorial Council for Health Care will be holding a meeting to discuss budget reduction measures.
Longer than a month defending the Health Care System
Madrid’s public health care users and workers have been protesting for more than a month against the plans of the regional goverment presided by Mr Ignacio González. For several Sundays, the white colour has been taking the centre of Madrid. After the first ‘white tide’ which took place on the 18th of November, unions represented by the Sectorial Committe for Health Care Unions (Satse, CCOO, Amyts, CSIT, UGT and USAE) together with the union AFEM called for a rally on the 27th of November which gathered more than 15,000 people (70,000 according to the unions).
Last Sunday, the same happened as thousands of people marched under the slogan “We are doctors, we are patients, we defend public health care”. The previous Wednesday a thousand people met in front of the Madrid Asamblea de Madrid (the regional “congress” of Madrid) to protest against the health care meassures carried out by the local Government. In front of the local parliament, hundreds of health care workers and users acussed Madrids Government of hidding privatization *********
Since the plan was announced last October 31, workers are keeping lock-ins at twenty-odd hospitals in Madrid. Citizen initiatives have also been seconded, such as #abrazaTuHospital (hug your hospital) in which thousands of people made human chains around health centres. The regional Health Councillor referred to the protest as ‘a show of affection’ to the centres and those who work there. In addition, since the Health Councillor’s Office ordered the removal of information placards about the planned measures because ‘they induce to error’, one can see white sheets hanging from windows and balconies on numerous buildings in the region.