In what could be a major jolt to the global system of healthcare, nurses are going on strike in several countries and regions worldwide, protesting against poor working conditions, the threat to their own lives due to the pandemic, improper preparedness for implementing safety standards, low pay and much more. Nurses are the backbone of COVID-19 healthcare treatments globally and their neglect is raising widespread questions on the attitudes taken by several administrations towards their safety and wellbeing.
Nurse Strikes in the USA
The National Nurses Union is a representative for 10,000 registered nursing professionals across 19 hospitals under the management of HCA Healthcare at California, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Kansas. Nurses under the union have been protesting the lack of preparedness of this huge hospital chain amidst the pandemic along with asking for suitable PPE equipment for nursing staff.
In Pennsylvania, 800 nurses have staged a walkout over their dangerous working conditions. Nurses working at St. Mary Medical Center have been dealing with conditions such as understaffing, low pay, longer working hours and lack of suitable protective equipment for a long time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
A wave of nurses and healthcare workers are going on strike and protesting in California, New York and Washington DC, protesting against poor working conditions, understaffing, PPE shortage and lower pay. In North Dakota, nurses who were infected with coronavirus and were asymptomatic were asked to keep working since there was a shortage of staff.
Albany Medical Center nurses have planned a strike for the 1st of December, 2020 courtesy the New York State Nurses Association. It has already rejected the contract proposal given by the management of the hospital. Nurses have expressed their worries at being directed to reuse N95 masks for single use. A unit at the hospital even saw 10 nurses falling sick with coronavirus.
At the same time, East Liverpool City Hospital nurses have gone on strike after contract talks stalled. The Ohio Nurses Association has stated that 16 hours of negotiations did not produce a positive result. Along with low pay, nurses are continually working overtime and picking up extra shifts.
At least 1,500 nurses at two Philadelphia hospitals are on the verge of going on strike as per the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. Nurses at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Einstein Medical Center, both of which are in Philadelphia, are slated to go on strikes soon.
Nurse Strikes in Zimbabwe
The ICN (International Council of Nurses) is hugely concerned about the plight of nurses in Zimbabwe amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Nurses have gone on strike protesting low pay and in spite of an agreement between both parties, the Zimbabwe Health Board Services has still gone ahead and dismissed more than 1,000 nurses from the pay sheets while disciplinary action is also being taken against these professionals. Nurses continue to protest, stating that salaries are appallingly low, making it impossible for some professionals to even buy food or avail of transportation to reach work.
Nurse Strikes in New Zealand
Community nurses have already gone on strike on the 9th of November and 23rd of November, 2020. They are protesting for parity of payment with counterparts who are employed at hospitals. The NZNO (New Zealand Nurses Organisation) has previously issued its strike notice which covers 32,000 nurses in primary health care and administrative staff across 500 medical centers and general practices.
Nurse Strikes in Europe
In a major jolt to healthcare operations and COVID-19 battles in Europe sometime earlier, healthcare workers and nurses went on strike, organizing demonstrations and strike actions in France and Spain. The protests center around diminishing resources for nursing professionals and healthcare workers and also against the policy of herd immunity. French nurses protested outside local city centers and hospitals with the biggest demonstration taking place in Paris. The operation was conducted by several trade unions including the General Confederation of Labor, General Confederation of Management, Sud union and Inter-Ugences Collective of emergency room workers.
Nurse Strikes in Australia
More than 150 nurses and midwives working at Blacktown Hospital at western Sydney went on a strike for 24 hours. A protest march took place outside the hospital and placards were held, stating Respect Our Nurses amidst chants of Nurses and midwives under attack. Fight back.
Nurse Strikes in Middle East
Nurses in Israel have also gone on strike protesting awful working conditions and considerable working pressure amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts did not pay off in terms of coming to an agreement with the Israeli Finance Ministry as far as the nurses’ association was concerned. The Israeli Health Ministry has previously stated that 813 nurses have already been quarantined under the suspicion of coming in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
Nursing professionals and those healthcare workers on the frontline of COVID-19 treatment and recovery deserve to be acknowledged and treated better. Dangerous working conditions, lack of safety equipment, low pay, grueling working schedules and lack of ample staff are factors making it near impossible for the pillars of COVID care to provide the best quality and attention to every patient.
It is time that Governments, authorities, hospital administrators and other stakeholders acknowledged the need for properly taking care of nursing personnel amidst COVID-19. If they are the ones risking their lives day in and day out and working long hours with very little pay, the least one can do for them is ensure proper safety equipment, better working conditions and some benefits at least.