Nurses in Iceland Complain about Pay Raise Coverage

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Nurses in Iceland Complain about Pay Raise Coverage

Nurses at Landspítali National University Hospital, many of whom have resigned due to dissatisfaction with their wages, consider the media coverage of the pay raise they were offered and rejected to be skewed.

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Reykjavík and Landspítali National University Hospital. Photo: Dagbjört Óddny Matthíasdóttir/Iceland Review. 

Surgical nurse Birgir Örn Ólafsson told Fréttablaðið that it is misleading to report that the pay raise is ISK 25,000 (USD 198, EUR 146) per month on average.

“It is not a strictly correct figure because after wage-related expenses have been subtracted from the 370 million [USD 2.9 million, EUR 2.2 million] the state is contributing to the institutional contract there is only 296 million left, or 18,200 krónur on average,” he stated.

Moreover, of that amount the withholding tax goes back to the state, which leaves ISK 10,900, Birgir added. “That makes 520 krónur per day, or 65 krónur [USD 0.5, EUR 0.4] per hour.”

Birgir said it is clear that if the state does not want to make the profession, which has invested in many years of education and waited for improved wages for a long time, a better deal, Landspítali will see a significant decrease in nurses at the end of this month.

Erna Einarsdóttir, managing director of Landspítali’s human resources division and chair of the hospital’s wage and salaries committee, pointed out that according to the new institutional contract, the salaries of nurses will increase to different extent, depending on education and work arrangement.

“Some will get more, others less, but we have calculated that on average the salaries of nurses will increase by 4.75 percent,” Erna stated.

“I would get no increase of my basic salary. If I were to get any increase at all, I would have to take on at least 40 percent night shifts, work 8-12-hour shifts every other weekend, or have a Masters, Diploma or PhD degree. Landspítali always comes first,” commented Hólmfríður Rósa Jóhannsdóttir, a nurse at the neonatal unit, to icelandreview.com.

“The institutional contract offered no increase for nurses in salary category C, which comprises a number of nurses, myself included. I would only get a 60,000 krónur one-time-payment—a work load payment retroactive by three months—before taxes. Nurses are being bribed. Those who won’t withdraw their resignations by February 10, won’t get anything,” Hólmfríður stated.

Hólmfríður pointed out that irrespective of the institutional contract offered, the basic salaries of all nurses will increase by 3.25 percent shortly because of the collective wage agreements signed in 2011 and extended last month.

Click here to read more about the wage dispute and impending reorganization of the hospital’s operations.

ESA