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Venezuela: Medical Federation Reports Government’s Discrimination Against Physicians

Editorial | El Universal

Caracas, 21 June 2005 | The Venezuelan Medical Federation (FMV) scheduled an Extraordinary Assembly for today to discuss matters pertaining to the collective contract, the guild elections and the “discrimination” to which they are subjected by the National Government.

Thus it was reported by the president of that guild, Douglas León Natera, who maintained that "during the last 30 months the government has refused to discuss collective bargaining with us.”

He made the claim that physicians’ salaries have been "frozen" for the last five years, in response to which necessary claims have been filed with the Office of the Labor Inspector, and yet no answers have been forthcoming.

He explained that the Office of the Labor Inspector gives as an excuse for not discussing the collective contract the fact that the guild elections have not yet been held, a task León Natera considers to be that of the National Electoral Council, which has managed to delay the procedures.

“We have been asking for guild elections and nothing has been possible. They tell us that we are in an electoral delay in order to avoid sitting down to discuss the collective contract,” he stated.

The FMV representative accused the Office of Labor Inspector of being “an armed branch of the government standing in the way of contract negotiations...The medical guild is aware of the fact that this has to do with a crude maneuver on the part of the government through the Office of the Inspector.”

León Natera stated that the medical guild does not understand why it is being discriminated against by the government, “given that they have more than 330 hospitals without supplies and 4,800 walk-in clinics that are falling apart; they now proceed with the Barrio Adentro II project while allowing the 4,800 walk-in facilities to die off.”

Furthermore, he is of the opinion that the situation worsens when “instead of assigning Venezuelan physicians they are assigning Cuban physicians as directors (of the centers for the Barrio Adentro mission), contrary to Public Statutes.”

“We demand that there be an immediate collective contract, that hospitals be funded and that Venezuelan physicians fill the jobs now being taken by the Cubans,” he said.

Translation by W.K.

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