Health workers need police protection at rally

Health workers demanding more money and more rights in front of parliament on Saturday Keystone

Around 1,000 people from the health sector demonstrated for better working conditions in Bern on Saturday. The police kept 100 opponents of the government’s Covid-19 measures behind barriers on the edge of Parliament Square.

This content was published on October 31, 2020 - 17:21

The Covid sceptics had gathered outside parliament shortly after noon for an unauthorised rally. They tried to disrupt the event by setting off firecrackers and chanting slogans.

They ignored the obligation to wear masks, as well as the police request to make way for the authorised rally. They were eventually forced to the edge of the square by officers in combat gear.

Police keep an eye on Covid sceptics Keystone

Saturday’s rally marked the end of a week of nationwide action by the “Health Alliance” of trade unions and professional associations. The health workers are demanding a wage increase and a coronavirus premium equivalent to one month’s salary, as well as more rights at work, more participation and better protection thanks to collective labour agreements.

For the event on Parliament Square the organisers had worked out a protection concept for 1,000 participants. The obligation to wear masks and social distancing were strictly observed.

Around the clock

Experts from various fields denounced the conditions in their industry.

“During the first Covid-19 wave in spring we were often on duty around the clock,” said care worker Silvia Dragoi. “In order to be able to provide good care, we regularly undertake further training.” She added that further support measures were needed from the government.

Laurentina Vais, a health expert, criticised the lack of recognition for people who give a lot physically and emotionally seven days a week. This leads to disappointment, professional withdrawal and exhaustion, she said.

Under constant time pressure it’s not possible to provide patients with the care they need, said nursing expert Liridona Dizdari-Berisha. Emotional exhaustion was one reason why almost half of nursing staff leave the profession during their working lives, she said.

“How about we clap for the military and put the CHF18 billion into healthcare,” was written on one placard.

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