A protest by a section of the employees of Saint Pierre University Hospital during a visit by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès on Saturday was ridiculous and politicised, Federal Minister Marie-Christine Marghem said on Sunday on Facebook.
“Some of the hospital staff evidently wished to ruin the sympathy and admiration built up over the past few months with ridiculous actions – like children who have not had what they wanted – that reflect a politicised trade union opposition guided by the left, which has had to be silent until now but aims to exploit this crisis as much as possible,” the minister wrote in her post which, however, was no longer visible by midday.
She highlighted, on the other hand, the “warm” welcome the Prime Minister was given in the hospital and the discussion on the difficulties of the situation, the sector’s needs and prospects for improvement.
Ms Marghem’s comments contrasted with those of Prime Minister’s Wilmès, who had a discussion with staff protesting against the possibility of being requisitioned when they were already mobilising of their own volition and calling for their profession to be upgraded.
“No-one can claim that they have not seen, understood, felt the distress and difficulty of the nursing staff, which already existed before the crisis and increased with the difficulties,” Ms Wilmès told the RTBF. The head of the Federal Government said she wished to convey “a calming message” and insisted on the need to “structure the upgrading of the nursing profession.”
After the disappearance of her comments, Minister Marghem continued to respond to the angry comments they spawned.
The minister stressed that there was a “need to be aware of the situation at this hospital, which falls under the Brussels Public Social Assistance Centre (CPAS), where Yvan Mayeur and Peralta carried out many political nominations.”
This was a reference to ex-Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur and former chairperson of the Saint-Pierre University Hospital Pascale Peralta, two former PS officials involved in the Samusocial affair, the financial scandal that led to the mayor’s resignation in 2017.
“My post simply shows that these politicised scenarios aimed at making newspaper headlines are the opposite of what needs to be done today to build together,” she added. “Freedom of expression to make one’s problems heard will work better with dialogue (…) I understand that the required empathy has not always been present. We need to learn from our mistakes and do better.”