Tunisian medics strike for frontline COVID-19 pay

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Tunisian government doctors in non-emergency roles launched a three-day strike Monday to demand premiums paid to other frontline healthcare workers tackling coronavirus in the North African nation.

The strike, which comes as Tunisia struggles to stem a surge in coronavirus cases needing hospital treatment, caused temporary delays to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in some centers.

Doctors, except those “in emergency services, dialysis and COVID services,” were called out on strike, said Noureddine Ben Abdellah, secretary general of the union of doctors, dentists and pharmacists, part of the powerful UGTT trades union.

The government has put in place bonus pay for other healthcare workers but not doctors, Ben Abdellah said.

The union is also calling for temporary doctors to be hired to help cope with rising coronavirus cases.

Several vaccination centers have had their work disrupted, according to the health ministry, but the union said that any disruption would “not have serious consequences.”

The main vaccination center in Tunis started a few hours later than usual on Monday due to the strike, but vaccination was taking place normally in the late morning, an AFP journalist said.

Tunisia’s economy has lurched from one crisis to another since the country’s 2011 revolution, and the strike comes as officials seek a new loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The Mediterranean country, with a population of around 11 million, has recorded more than 311,000 coronavirus cases and over 10,800 deaths.
Health officials have recently warned of the risk of oxygen shortages, as patients stretch medical facilities to the limit.

AFP

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