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Skirts or Trousers?

March 28, 2008 – 10:29 am

Big, big news item this week. Would you believe that the owners of a hospital in Cádiz have taken 30 euros in bonus pay away from nurses who refuse to wear the traditional uniform – the one specified in the company regulations?

That uniform was chosen 30 years ago and includes a skirt, fitted white apron, classic nurses cap – the works! (Really takes you back in time, I must say.)

It so happens that nurses at the hospital have decided it’s time to retire the old skirt in favour of a loose trouser with a comfortable elastic waist. In statements to the press, one said she shouldn’t have to show her body to do her work (and that statement was accompanied by a demonstration – on public television – of how the skirt responds to bending over or reaching high…).

Given the climate in terms of gender equality in Spain right now, it’s not surprising that society is up in arms. The media is indignant, the public flabbergasted, outrages, even amused. It’s the hot topic for radio “tertulias”; it’s the hot topic everywhere. I’ll admit, I’m learning new adjectives by the day just listening in!

The hospital is privately run, but subsidized by the regional health services. Therefore, when news of this labour dispute reached the media, regional politicians were quick to react.

The latest? Three arms of the regional government have pledged to work hand in hand to investigate the health centre. At the forefront is the “Consejería para la Igualdad” (The Equal (read “women’s”) Rights Council), followed by the Labour Department and then SAS (the Servicio Andaluz de Salud).

Looks like a legal battle is on the way, and if I were the director of that hospital, I’d be looking to buy stocks in a manufacturer of white trousers with elastic waists!

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