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Chilean public health workers start 72-hour strike

(Xinhua)

15:54, September 29, 2011

SANTIAGO, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- About 26,000 members of Chile's National Confederation of Municipal Health Workers (Confusam) began a three-day strike on Wednesday demanding labor improvements and reforms.

At the beginning of the strike, health workers demanded a protocol agreement signed with the government in 2010 be respected and blamed Health Minister Jaime Manalich for the strike due to his inadequate responses to their demands.

Confusam President Carolina Espinoza said the health workers were asking for increases in public spending on health, matching their benefits with those extended to other municipal workers and more open government policy plans for the sector.

Chile's primary medical care system is provided by municipal governments through ambulant clinics which are used as a measure to relieve pressure on big hospitals.

Espinoza accused Manalich of promoting a parallel agenda aimed at "privatizing the public health sector and converting it into another business opportunity."

The strike will end on Friday with a demonstration from downtown Santiago to the Health Ministry.

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