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Nicaraguan Health Workers Strike, Protest
Weekly News Update on the Americas, issue #421, 22 February 1998
On Feb. 20, some 1,000 nurses, cooks and support staff of Nicaragua's Health Ministry (MINSA) held a march through the streets of Managua to demand job stability and salary reclassification. The protesters ended their march in front of the MINSA headquarters, where they staged a sit-in that lasted several hours. Gustavo Porras, leader of the Federation of Health Workers (FETSALUD), told Notimex that the protests will continue until the authorities agree to negotiate. Porras gave the Health Ministry a petition supporting the union's demands with the signatures of some 20,000 Health Ministry employees (out of a total of nearly 30,000).
The march had the moral support--although not the direct participation--of more than 3,000 MINSA doctors who began their own partial strike on Feb. 16 to demand salary increases. The doctors, headed by the Doctors' Movement for Salaries, are remaining in their clinics but have suspended outpatient services and scheduled surgeries. On Feb. 19, a day after MINSA officials cancelled a scheduled meeting with the doctors, the doctors stepped up the pressure by staging a 24-hour all-out strike; they are threatening to go on an open-ended all-out strike if authorities continue to refuse to negotiate. [Notimex 2/19/98, 2/20/98; Popol Na Weekly Informative Summary 2/15-20/98]
As MINSA doctors and support workers staged strikes and protests on Feb. 19, Health Minister Lombardo Martinez left Managua with another three cabinet members to take part in the election campaign of the ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) on the Atlantic coast. [Notimex 2/20/98]
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