Holding placards and chanting slogans, about 200 nurses from across the country protested outside the Department of Health (DOH) in Taipei on International Nurses’ Day yesterday, calling for changes in work conditions, including what they call a “twisted” shift system.
“Only when nurses have rested well can patients’ safety be guaranteed. Give me normal work hours. Give me a normal work schedule,” nurses chanted as they demonstrated in uniform outside the DOH.
After chanting the slogans, protesters threw work schedules at the DOH building.
People’s Front for Democracy director Chou Chia-chun (周佳君) said hospitals put their nurses on one of three eight-hour shifts a day — a day shift from 8am to 4pm, an evening shift from 4pm to 12am and a night shift from 12am to 8am — but sometimes changes between different shifts leave the nurses with less than eight hours of rest time.
“I began my shift at midnight today, and got off work at 8am, but tomorrow, I’m on the day shift that starts at 8am — I only have one day in between to adjust,” said Chen Yi-chun (陳宜君), one of the nurses in the demonstration.
Taiwan Radical Nurses Union member Liang Hsiu-mei (梁秀眉) said that among the 586 shift schedules the union has collected from nurses across the country — including from university hospitals, municipal hospitals, medical centers and care centers, one-third of the schedules showed at least two different shifts every week.
“This means that the nurses have to reverse their circadian rhythms every two or three days, and suffer from sleep pattern disruption or insufficient sleep,” she said, adding that one of the worst schedules is when the night shift is followed by the day shift, because with forced overtime, the nurses get less than eight hours of rest before their next shift.
The union protested at the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) late last month, demanding reasonable labor conditions protected by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), but the council shifted the responsibility for dealing with the shift arrangements back to the DOH, union member Chen Yu-feng (陳玉鳳) said.
“The department stands with the nurses on their demand for reasonable working hours and sufficient rest,” DOH spokesperson Wang Che-chao (王哲超) said, adding that the department will also discuss the criteria of hospital evaluations to include “labor inspection.”
The department will also negotiate with the CLA as soon as possible and discuss the actual working conditions with nurses, Wang added.
His words sparked an uproar from the crowd, who said the evaluations were often done falsely and that the two agencies are still passing the buck.
“It’s not about money, we want our lives, we want to take days off,” union member Wang Yun-hsu (王云緒) said, adding that solving the problem of disordered shift arrangements would go some way to alleviating the national problem of nursing shortages.
A nurse surnamed Wu (吳) said that the NT$2 billion (US$68.11 million) promised by the government to improve nurses’ working conditions and hire more resident nurses is not helpful to the nurses because the hospitals force them to sign contracts binding them to continue working for at least one or two years, with a substantial penalty for breach of contract.
“Wouldn’t it be better for the patients if the labor conditions were reasonable, so that nurses can continue working for many years and gain more experience, instead of burning out new nurses in a couple years and forcing them to leave because of poor health conditions caused by the heavy workload?” Wang Yun-hsu asked.
The union said it would stage a demonstration at the DOH again on June 12 if it did not come up with a satisfying solution to solve the poor labor conditions.
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
Americans awoke yesterday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of unrest fueled by rage over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police, who responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Monday last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. However, many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Vehicles and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were
The nation marked its 49th day with no new domestic COVID-19 cases yesterday, and there were no new imported cases, but that does not mean the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) can relax its attention, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday in Tainan as he and a team of health officials wrapped up a weekend visit to the city. The visit is part of the center’s efforts to promote domestic travel under the “new disease prevention lifestyle.” Among the 442 confirmed cases, 423 have been released from isolation and 12 people remain hospitalized, Chen
EXTRA INVITATIONS: Russia, Australia, South Korea and India would be asked to a later summit dedicated to countering China, Donald Trump said US President Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a planned face-to-face summit of G7 leaders this month and now wants to host an expanded meeting in September dedicated to countering China to which Russian President Vladimir Putin would be invited. Trump on Saturday announced that he had canceled the June meeting, which he had billed as a symbol of the US “transitioning back to greatness,” after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him in a telephone call that she saw the summit in Washington as a health risk. Hundreds of security staff, journalists and officials also attend the two-day summits. Reports suggest