Police officers clashed with protesting nurses outside the Buenos Aires City Legislature on Monday, with a number of demonstrators walking away wounded.
Nurses working at public hospitals in the capital rallied on Día de la Sanidad (Health Day) to call for better working conditions and improved pay, while also demanding they be officially recognised as healthcare professionals.
At present, nurses are recognised as administrative employees, not as workers in the health system, a situation many feel is unfair, especially given that nurses are the frontline of care for those who have contracted the coronavirus pandemic.
“A pandemic has arrived to show the fundamental role that nurses play. It is a question of law because they are health professionals and also, of course, [deserve] an improvement in their salary. If their salaries are increased they will not have the need to be, as they are now, working in various jobs. Recognising them as professionals means an improvement in the quality of hospital care,” the Association of Nursing Graduates said in a statement.
According to the group, nurses deliver more than 70 percent of benefits to those receiving care within public hospitals.
However, after Monday’s protest, it was the nurses themselves who ended up needing medical attention. A number of demonstrators said they were blocked by City Police from delivering a petition with their demands to lawmakers, with many accusing officers of “repression” as small clashes broke out.
"I was attacked by men, I was attacked by the police. Look how I was – there are two or three more colleagues who were attacked," said Norma, one of the nurses who participated in the protest, in comments reported by Noticias Argentinas.