France to give $9 billion in pay raises to health care workers

France will give health care workers across the nation $9 billion in pay raises in recognition of their work during the pandemic, the country's Prime Minister Jean Castex has said.

Castex, the Health Minister Olivier Véran and trade union representatives signed the agreement on Monday in Paris.

In April, the French government said it would pay medical health care workers a bonus of up to $1,634 for treating Covid-19 patients. Hospital staff will receive $544 and those working directly in coronavirus-impacted areas will get $1,634.

Under the new measures, non-medical health care workers will also receive a pay rise of $208 per month. This will be implemented across two stages -- the group will receive a $102 pay rise from September 2020 and a further additional $106 from March 2021.

French health care workers held protests in June demanding better working conditions. Their demonstrations triggered a nationwide debate about their treatment.

Activists from left-wing group Attac and Inter-Urgences, an association of paramedical staff, sprayed red paint on France's Health Ministry building in Paris on June 20 as part of the protests.

"No one can doubt that this is a historic moment for our healthcare system," Castex said in a speech Monday. He added that the pay package recognized workers on "the frontline of the fight against the unprecedented, enduring and strong epidemic."

"It's way of catching up for the years of delay where each and every one of us, including maybe even myself, has their part of the responsibility" he said.

The Prime Minister added that the French government had a "clear objective" in providing "better working conditions in all health establishments," in a post on Twitter.

Véran also took to Twiiter on Monday to pay tribute to workers who had "fought to save lives without ever losing heart."

"Beyond recognition they expected acts: this is the objective of the [agreement] with a historic revaluation of salaries," he wrote.

The package for health workers follows the French government's $16.9 billion funding pledge to support the country's aviation industry and an $8.8 billion bailout for its embattled car companies.

In June, France's $3 trillion economy grew for the first time since February, as coronavirus restrictions were eased.




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