Surgeons launch strike over fee accord

Surgeons from clinics and medical interns at public hospitals launched a strike on Monday, risking the closure of hundreds of operating rooms around the country.

The doctors accuse the government of stigmatizing them and object to an accord aimed at reining in excessive fees.

A total of 30 unions and professional organizations have called for a strike in a sector where such action is not common, the French-language AFP news agency reported.

The groups are making various demands.

Surgical procedures are being cancelled and in cases of emergencies patients are being directed to hospitals.

“Hospitals will be completely the same for dealing with the sick,” Health Minister Marisol Touraine insisted.

The 37 public assistance hospitals of Paris (AP-HP) issued a statement saying certain services would be cancelled, “notably surgical interventions”, but emergency operations are assured.

The strike affects 70 percent of private clinics, around 700 facilities, according to the federation of private hospitals (FHP).

At issue is an agreement limiting doctors’ fees signed by three major doctors’ unions, representing generalists and specialists, under pressure from Touraine, the health minister.

“We must at all costs change this accord because it does not take into account the specific nature of surgery and anesthesia,” Philippe Cuq, president of the union of surgeons told Europe 1.

Doctors in these fields receive “supplements”, which Cuq said are different from excessive fees.

If the accord is not changed “in the next three years the system will stop the practice of private surgeons,” he said.

Touraine defended what she called a “good agreement” while saying that her door remained open for dialogue.

She also maintained the government has no intention of restricting the freedom of doctors to practice where they want.

One union, representing hospital anesthetists, said it would not follow the strike, maintaining that would hurt public service for the “demands of the private sector".

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.