After 13 days of protests over unpaid salaries and the reinstatement of colleagues who have been laid off, Oaxaca health workers are turning up the pressure.
A new series of protests started yesterday at the San Pablo Huitzo toll booth on the highway that connects the city of Oaxaca to Mexico City and at city intersections where health workers distributed information to motorists.
Then at 8:00am today, the protest escalated. Workers set up at least 10 highway blockades around the state, beginning with five in Oaxaca city.
One was placed on highway 175 at the Oaxaca airport and two others on highway 190.
Other blockades have been erected in Salina Cruz, Tehuantepec, Juchitán, Ixtepec, Matías Romero, Zanatepec and Huajuapan de León.
All are scheduled to be removed at 5:00pm.
Protest action will continue tomorrow when doctors, nurses and administrative personnel will target various state government offices in the capital and elsewhere.
For health workers the main issues are the government’s delay in paying year-end bonuses and January 15 salaries and the layoff of 2,000 workers out of 8,000 deemed redundant by the state.
Protesters want those workers reinstated and are also calling for the head of Health Secretary Juan Díaz Pimentel. They claim that the personnel who have been dismissed are needed in hospitals and rural clinics throughout the state.
Díaz asserted that his position as secretary “is not under discussion,” and that he has the full support of the governor.
He also justified the layoff of the workers and said 800 of them were on the payroll but didn’t actually have a job.
Governor Alejandro Murat and his interior secretary met yesterday with health workers’ union representatives and indicated that overdue salary payments would be made today to 1,000 workers.