21 de Feb de 2020

Nacional

No Social Security protest today

The Social Security (CSS) health technicians, on a two-week strike to demand a pay raise and higher bonuses, have finally reached an agr...

The Social Security (CSS) health technicians, on a two-week strike to demand a pay raise and higher bonuses, have finally reached an agreement with the government, and are set to empty Via Transistmica today.

For a fortnight, many Panamanians in need of medical attention were left suffering and unattended because of the strike. The health technicians took their woes to the street, causing a traffic nightmare for drivers, many of whom had to find alternative routes or were stuck in a sea of cars stationed on Transistmica as they waited for the health technicians to clear the way at the end of the work day.

By Friday, the protests had reached a peak, as government officials kept the technicians pay checks, which led to confrontations with the police.

The scenario only became grimmer as an agreement between the technicians and the government seemed unattainable, and many felt the protests would continue well into Carnival.

Thankfully, the technicians the Social Security and the government were finally able to reach an agreement on Saturday.

Demands by the National Coordinator of Health Unions and Professionals (Conagreprotsa) for a $80 pay rise and a $225 bonus were finally modified. The technicians settled for a $65 pay rise and a $200 bonus once a year according to their work performance.

This agreement will translate into a $5.1 million additional cost to Social Security in the current fiscal year. Today, the CSS will work on rescheduling missed appointments for all of the patients affected by the strike.

The protests have not only translated into millions of dollars lost, but surely also diluted health needs for the entire country.

The cost of the strike was 400,000 lost appointments, 500,000 undelivered prescriptions, and 10,000 X rays exams not done, besides the health deterioration of thousands of patients who did not receive medical attention.

The discomfort was widespread, both directly by missed appointments and indirectly through traffic jams, leaving many to hope the new government takes a stronger stance at preventing the use of traffic blocking protests in labor disputes.

Meanwhile, the construction workers union, SUNTRACS, will hold short protests at the Metro Mall site, in front of Los Pueblos mall.