Dominican Republic: medical workers extend strike

Leaders of the Dominican Medical Guild (CMD) and the National Union of Nursing Services (UNASED) announced on Aug. 7 that Dominican medical workers would continue a strike they started on July 29 for at least another five days, until 6 AM on Aug. 13. The strike is the latest development in an 18-month struggle around a demand for a monthly minimum wage of 58,400 pesos ($1,624) for medical professionals.

The CMD, which represents doctors, began the fight in February 2008 and were joined by the nurses. The two unions have organized a series of general strikes, hunger strikes, picket lines and building occupations. The current strike began after a surprise sit-in at the Labor Secretariat by 30 unionists; police agents arrested them in the early morning of July 29.

On Aug. 6 Public Health Secretary Bautista Rojas Gómez announced that he had reinforced the public health system by placing soldiers and police agents in hospitals and by contracting hundreds of medical professionals to substitute for the strikers. “From now on, we’re going to take drastic measures,” he said. Rojas suggested that the strike was a political move by the opposition Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). CMD president Waldo Ariel Suero said on Aug. 7 that this was just an attempt to divide the strikes and that it showed “Rojas’ state of desperation.” UNASED representative Rafaela Figuereo said the solution was “in the hands of the government.” (La Raza, Chicago, Aug. 7; La Opinión, Los Angeles, Aug. 9; Listin Diario, Dominican Republic, Aug. 8)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 9

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