France: medical interns strike over conditions

Interns across the country have gone on strike demanding that the government withdraw new laws on their freedom of movement.

Submitted by jef costello on October 6, 2007

15000 interns nationwide demonstrated on Friday to further publicise their strike. In Paris 1000 interns blocked traffic at the Place de la Bastille and held a symbolic jog under the banner "American jogging for an american health service" In Strasbourg and Lyon they gave blood. Protests were held in all major cities.

The strike began on the 27th of September and with the one union that was holding out joining action on Tuesday observance is close to 100%.

The major point of contention is a new law allowing for doctors to be excluded from the state medical system if they practise in an area that already has too many doctors. The avowed aim is to encourage a more equal distribution of doctors across the country, as several regions have a doctor to inhabitant ratio that is seriously below the national average.

The interns respond that the number of doctors has fallen over the last 20 years due to government policies, they have also pointed out that in many rural areas doctors are working completely alone due to hospital closures. As a result they must either purchase expensive equipment such as x-ray machines or offer sub-standard care to their patients.

Interns are paid little above the minimum wage and they usually qualify at around the age of 30, they claim that by this point they have begun their lives and do not have the means or the will to move.