Amid the confusion surrounding the implementation of the federal government’s new universal healthcare scheme, workers of the program it replaces have been left jobless and with an uncertain future.
Former Seguro Popular employees from Mexico City, Oaxaca, Morelos, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Michoacán and México state protested outside the National Palace in the historic center of the capital Thursday morning to demand a meeting with Juan Ferrer, director of the new National Institute of Health for Well-Being (Insabi), and President López Obrador.
Their demand wasn’t met but the disgruntled workers did meet with senior officials from the secretariats of the Interior (Segob) and Health (SS) later in the day.
However, the audiences with Segob strategic affairs director Antonio Navarrete Ruiz and SS administration and finance chief Pedro Flores Jiménez failed to appease the ex-employees, who are seeking termination payments in accordance with the law or employment with Insabi, which is responsible for the new healthcare scheme.
Following the meeting with the former, which took place after more than 300 former Seguro Popular workers transferred their protest to a major thoroughfare that runs through downtown Mexico City, representatives of the ex-employees said that Segob officials “have no idea what’s happening – they don’t even know what Insabi is or what Seguro Popular was.”
Referring to the subsequent meeting with Flores, a Mexico City representative of the former Seguro Popular employees said that “unfortunately, we’re left with questions again, we’re left with uncertainty again.”
César Camargo said the ex-workers were told they have to speak with their respective state governments rather than federal authorities because the former has the authority to contract workers for the Insabi scheme, which commenced January 1.
Camargo accused the federal Health Secretariat of washing its hands of the matter, adding that Seguro Popular workers were not informed that the states would be responsible for hiring Insabi workers. He also said there is no certainty that the former workers will find employment with Insabi, which is facing resistance from governors of several states.
Acting on the federal government’s advice, Camargo said that workers would initiate talks with state authorities on Friday.
Ulises Cortés Maldonado, a union leader in Oaxaca, said that former Seguro Popular workers in that state will continue to protest against the termination of their employment. A sit-in began outside Insabi offices in Oaxaca city on Monday.