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French government grants health workers 'historic' pay rise after weeks of negotiations

Pay rises for hospital staff worth €8 billion were given the green light by the French government on Monday.

The country's new prime minister, Jean Castex, described a set of agreements as "a historic moment for our health system".

The accord, which most major unions have agreed to, came after seven weeks of heated negotiations.

Hailing their efforts in the fight against COVID-19, Castex added this was "first and foremost a considerable recognition of those who have been on the front line."

Health workers in France have been revered as heroes during the coronavirus pandemic with people across the country applauding them from their windows and balconies at 8 p.m. every evening during the country's lockdown.

But many have been driven to protest in recent months demanding better pay and more funding for hospitals.

The agreements set out €7.5 billion for nurses, orderlies and other non-medical health workers, such as technical and administrative staff, which will mainly be used to finance a base salary increase of €183 net per month.

In addition, €450 million has been put on the table for doctors, mainly to increase the compensation paid to practitioners who work solely in public hospitals. Medical interns and students have been attributed €200 million.

The deal has drawn criticism from some healthcare organisations, with one union representing doctors, Action Praticiens Hôpital (APH), denouncing the move.

This "is a step forward, but it lacks too many elements to be signed," said Jacques Trevidic, president of the APH, at a press conference, calling for a "second round of negotiations," with a specific focus on working hours.

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