Nurses in France get $13b pay rise. Things are very different elsewhere

Nurses in France get historic $13b pay rise. Things are very different elsewhere

Nurses in France will receive a pay rise worth €8 billion (AU$13 billion) after the government agreed to a historic new rate. 

The pay will see health workers’ pay rise by around $298 a month on average, with nurses, non-medical staff and care workers to receive the benefit. Doctors working in the public sector will also receive a slice. 

The deal came after seven weeks of talks with trade unions as the Covid-19 pandemic pummelled the European nation. France has seen 30,000 deaths and 200,000 infections. 

“This is first of all recognition of those who have been on the front line in the fight against this epidemic,” new French Prime Minister Jean Castex said as the new deal was signed.

“It’s also a way of catching up the delay for each and every one – including perhaps myself – has their share of responsibility.”

Castex described it as a “historic moment” for France’s health system. 

Nurse pay around the world

France’s decision comes as NSW nurses face 12 month wage freezes. The public sector wage freeze was pitched as a way to save taxpayers $3 billion and keep workers in jobs, but unions have described it as a “slap in the face”. 

The Industrial Relations Commission in June ruled public sector workers aren’t guaranteed a 2.5 per cent pay rise under the current wages policy. 

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey described it as a “disappointing” verdict.

“But even more disappointing is the state government’s insistence on cutting the wages of paramedics, nurses, cleaners and prison guards who are keeping us safe from a pandemic,” he said.

Nurses in Zimbabwe are also striking over pay conditions, with Zimbabwean police arresting more than a dozen nurses and union representatives in early July, AFP reports

The union, which represents 150,000 nurses, called on workers to strike as Zimbabwe faces surging inflation. 

“The situation is terrible. We can’t afford to pay rent,” nurse Moses Sigauke said.

He said the average nurse’s salary had fallen from $1,146 in 2008 to $50 today. 

In the US, nurses are calling for hazard pay similar to what military service people receive. 

And in the UK, unions are also calling for a pay rise as nurse pay continues to fall in real terms. Unions say the pay will help boost the economy and reflect the dangerous conditions staff have been required to work in. 

Not paid since February

According to Amnesty International, health workers around the world have been “silenced, exposed and attacked”.

It said more than 3,000 health workers have died from the pandemic, and that those raising concerns have faced ramifications ranging from dismissal through to arrest. 

“With the COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating around the world, we are urging governments to start taking health and essential workers’ lives seriously,” said Sanhita Ambast, Amnesty International’s researcher and advisor on economic, social and cultural rights.

“Countries yet to see the worst of the pandemic must not repeat the mistakes of governments whose failure to protect workers’ rights has had devastating consequences.”

Amnesty International also noted that in South Sudan, state-paid doctors have not received a salary since February, and are also not covered by welfare or medical cover. 

Additionally, at least 46 staff in Guatemala have not been paid for the last two and a half months.

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on Yahoo Finance and is republished here with permission.

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