Spain health workers plan fresh protests

Spanish medical unions and public health workers are set to stage a rally in the capital, Madrid to denounce the government’s decision to privatize the health sector.

The protesters are scheduled to take to the streets on Sunday as part of their efforts to force the government to stop its painful private management policies.

Madrid’s regional government plans to privatize six hospitals and 27 health centers of the 270 in the region, insisting that the plan is necessary for the region to meet its tough deficit targets.

Medical unions, however, have been angered by the policies of the conservative government, arguing that they can save around 600 million euros without any of the painful privatization, rather with a better management.

The medical unions say they have no alternative than to go on strikes once or twice a week and plan to complete their acts of protest by publishing news of their grievances and explaining to the patients and citizens the reasons why they are failing to provide their duties during the strikes.

The eurozone’s fourth-largest economy must lower its deficit to 4.5 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent in 2014. Economists, however, say those targets will be difficult to meet amid poor prospects for the country’s economic recovery.

Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs.

AO/SZH