Tuesday 20 February 2018

Protests over Spain health reforms

Health workers protest against the austerity measures in Barcelona, Spain (AP)
Health workers protest against the austerity measures in Barcelona, Spain (AP)

Thousands of demonstrators have marched through the streets of 16 Spanish cities to protest against plans to part-privatise the public health care system, with some questioning the government's motives.

It was the third "white tide" demonstration in Madrid, named after the colour of the medical scrubs many protesters wear.

But it was the first time cities other than the capital took part, including Barcelona, Cuenca, Murcia, Pamplona, Toledo and Zaragoza.

Protesters carried banners saying "Public health is not to be sold, it's to be defended".

Health care and education are administered by Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions.

Some indebted ones, like Madrid, have announced the part-privatisation of some services, with some people openly suspicious that the move is more a politically motivated ploy than an attempt to cut costs.

Civil servant Javier Tarabilla, 31, said Spain's welfare state was being dismantled to be handed over to the private sector.

"This is pillaging of our public services, looting something we've all contributed to through taxes, to give it to private companies to run for profit," he said.

Madrid regional health councillor Javier Fernandez-Lasquetty has called the protests irresponsible, saying public-money savings were essential to lift Spain out of debt and onto the road of economic recovery.

"These protests create conflict and are not in the interest of public health, but they do favour the interests of those who organise them," Mr Fernandez-Lasquetty said.

www.lamoncloa.gob.es/idiomas/9/(Spain Government)

Press Association

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