“We work under conditions of overburdening and fatigue. We had to maintain daily business with lack of materials and rudimentary equipment.” (Social worker in Centenario Hospital, Neuquén)
Since 2 March 2021, the nurses are on strike in the province of Neuquén in Patagonia, Argentina. Workers in the public health system who are fighting the pandemic on the front lines didn’t receive a pay raise during all of 2020 – while the inflation rate was at 30%! Accordingly, they refused the 12% pay raise accepted by the ATE public-sector union and went on a self-organised strike. They are organised in an assembly connecting several hospitals.
The strikers have erected 30 street blockades to obstruct the oil and gas production in the province. The blockades are actively supported by the local population (read a report on anred [in Spanish]).
The interview we are publishing here is about the personnel of Centenario Hospital in the province’s eponymous capital Neuquén. Especially women fight at the sharp end against worsening working conditions and try to compensate for child care that collapsed during the pandemic. Instead of supporting them, the provincial government announced austerity measures. Governor Gutiérrez’s offer from April 14 to pay a bonus of 30,000 Pesos (270 Euros) was rejected by the workers.
Students conducted interviews with the striking workers: “Arm in arm and together with their companions they withstand the threats of police and violent thugs and their voices resound in the megaphones with a force that infects everybody around”, the students write.