"I have had 14-hour shifts days in a row and it doesn't matter how old you are"

Nurses want to be able to retire early and voluntarily. Without a specific age and "without having a negative impact on the State coffers", explains the Secretary of Union Action of SATSE Castilla-La Mancha, Ángel García. Currently this group is allowed to retire "at age 63 with a significant reduction in pension."

The proposal of this union, which does not have a presence at the negotiating tables, would need the support of the class unions. It would allow the time of retirement to be advanced by six years, with 100% of the pension, for people with contributions over 37 years, or to advance five years with a shorter contribution period, as explained. And always, he insists, voluntarily. "There are people who are physically and mentally well and can continue until they are 65 and even extend it."

Early retirement is included in the Social Security Law, he comments. "It would be done through reducing coefficients based on the number of years worked, with higher contributions during the years in active employment."

Ángel García recalls that “we are not the first to request it. There are already other groups that can retire early: miners, railway workers, firefighters, sea workers or local police, among others”.

And why retire early, we ask. "We are one of the most worked health groups, by far." She explains it. "Nurses have a complicated work life with risks of hardship, danger and psychosocial", she says.

It occurs from the beginning of their professional activity, which sometimes will last for more than 40 years. “They have been undermining physical and mental health since the age of 22 and COVID has been the last straw.” To this is added that between 70 and 80% of the profession work morning, afternoon or night shifts in shifts of 12 or 24 hours. “Sometimes we have guards in a row. And it is not the same to do them with 25 years than with 65. It is fair”.

Ángel García has been a nurse for nearly 30 years. He has worked in Albacete, in Specialized Care in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, although almost all of his working life has been spent in a nursing home in Ciudad Real. Currently his place is in Primary Care, temporarily parked as a union release.

"My experience? Shift work, irregularly, including nights and weekends. Zero reconciliation. No trips at Easter or Christmas, complicated weekends because you have to constantly exchange them with your colleagues. The world spins differently than ours. And very little rest that, in addition, they constantly wake us up because there are no people”.

This last aspect, he says, “is an endemic evil because we are few for those who need it. In Castilla-La Mancha there are hospital shifts with 18 patients. People are missing and even if you have to get rid you have to go to work. I have had shifts of 14 days in a row and it does not matter how old you are”.

For this reason, he believes that early retirement "would improve the system with the entry of younger people: more rotations, and less sick leave due to age", this nurse emphasizes. In addition, it must be remembered that in this group temporary employment reaches 25% in Castilla-La Mancha, according to data from the Health Service (SESCAM).

To date, more than 20,000 nurses from all over the State - there are more than 300,000 registered in Spain and more than 12,000 in Castilla-La Mancha - have written to the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, to claim early retirement.

They have done so through the massive sending of individual writings from the different autonomous communities where they reveal their work reality: high level of responsibility, overload and tension due to insufficient staff, physical, mental or emotional exhaustion as well as biological, physical, chemical or ergonomic, associated with their job. “There is no way to have a balanced diet, we have disturbed sleep…”, Ángel García abounds.

"In this matter there are no fissures in the nursing group", remarks the person in charge of SATSE's Trade Union Action. The (bad) employment situation of these professionals was also recognized by the president of the Council of Nursing Colleges of Castilla-La Mancha, Roberto Martín, in an interview last January in elDiarioclm.es.

“If there is no answer, we will continue to insist to convince the Public Administration. It is adequate, it will not be a burden for the pension system and it will favor active nurses, those who will reach them and the entire health field in general”, he insists. If they do not achieve the goal, "we will take all possible measures as a union."

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