France raises pay for health care workers by more than €8 billion
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The French government and unions signed an agreement Monday giving over eight billion euros in pay rises for health workers, with the prime minister admitting the move was overdue in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the peak of the outbreak in France, people applauded every night health workers who in turn said that such gratitude rang hollow if it was not followed by concrete steps.
The bulk of the package comprises 7.5 billion euros ($8.5 billion) for pay increases for nurses and careworkers, who will get an average monthly raise of 183 euros ($208).
There is also 450 million euros ($510 million) for doctors intended to bolster wages for those who solely work in the public sector, a move aimed at luring them from more lucrative private clinics.
"No one can deny that this is a historic moment for our health system," Prime Minister Jean Castex said after a signing ceremony that followed seven weeks of negotiations between government and unions.
"This is first of all recognition of those who have been on the front line in the fight against this epidemic," he said.
"It is also a way of catching up the delay for each and every one -- including perhaps myself -- has their share of responsibility."
But some unions, including the hardline CGT, refrained from signing the accords, an indication that tensions over the issue may not be over.
The coronavirus epidemic has now killed over 30,000 people in France and while infection rates have fallen markedly, officials remain wary of the risk of a second wave.
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