After three months of health crisis during which they were hailed as “heroes”, tens of thousands of carers demonstrated on Tuesday in France to demand more resources and remind the government of its promises on the hospital.
Sometimes violent clashes involving thugs have tarnished several parades, particularly in Paris, to the despair of demonstrators, and the president of the Association of Emergency Physicians of France Patrick Pelloux, who said he was “totally disgusted”.
The caregivers, mostly nurses, were out in numbers: 18,000 people in Paris, 7,500 in Toulouse, 4,000 in Bordeaux (southwest), between 4,000 and 5,000 in Strasbourg (east) …
In Paris, where the procession that left the Ministry of Health joined the Esplanade des Invalides in the middle of the afternoon, scuffles broke out at the end of the journey.
Law enforcement responded to projectile shots with tear gas against 100 to 200 violent demonstrators, including “antifas”, blackblocks, according to an AFP journalist.
A nurse, supported by colleagues, attacked these demonstrators in tears: “You put our demo in the air, you are idiots! She shouted.
The police reported at 2400 hours 24 arrests. Clashes also took place in Lille (north) and Nantes (west).
“We have nothing at all”
In total, more than 220 rallies were planned at the call of a dozen unions and carers’ collectives. These were the first demonstrations allowed in the country since the confinement came into effect three months ago.
Objective: to take advantage of the support garnered from the population during the health crisis in order to obtain progress for employees of hospitals and nursing homes, hailed as “heroes in white coats” by the Head of State at the start of the epidemic.
The first pledges of the “recognition” promised by the executive are however far from having convinced the interested parties: “We do not want a medal or small bonus on the sly, we want a salary up to what our trades bring to society, ”says Clara Grémont, a nursing assistant near Montpellier (south-east).
“Mr. Macron, what have you planned for the caregivers? At the moment, we have nothing at all! “Launched Professor Laurent Thines in front of the crowd in Besançon (east), before asking” a minute of silence for the healthcare workers who died in France from the negligence of this government which has failed to protect “.
“The coronavirus crisis showed the flaws in our system, but we faced it, we had no choice,” explains Charlotte Dumont, nursery nurse in Bordeaux, for whom “the fundamental problem is that we runs the hospital like a business. “
After more than a year of strike in the emergency room, then in all hospital departments, the demands have not changed: “We are waiting for a salary increase and the recognition of qualifications. We are awaiting the opening of beds, the hiring of staff, “recalled CGT number one Philippe Martinez, who was present at the start of the Paris rally.
So many subjects posed on the table of the “Ségur de la santé”, a vast concertation launched at the end of May by the government, which must concretize by the beginning of July the “massive investment and upgrading plan” promised by Emmanuel Macron.
“The answers must absolutely meet expectations” warned the secretary general of Force Ouvrière, Yves Veyrier in Paris.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran wanted to be reassuring Monday, by promising that by the beginning of July caregivers would have “all the answers to the questions they ask and the claims they legitimately bring”.
The coronavirus has killed some 30,000 people in France since March, one of the worst results in the world. Caregivers and hospital staff have been on the front lines and hard hit, but the health crisis has only highlighted a situation that has already been very bad for many years in the hospital.