Iceland Hospital’s New Contract with Nurses Presented

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Iceland Hospital’s New Contract with Nurses Presented

The new institutional contract between Landspítali National University Hospital and the Nurses’ Union, which was signed on Tuesday and presented to nurses yesterday, includes salary increases of 5 to 9.6 percent, depending on education and work experience.

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Landspítali (foreground). Photo: Icelandic Photo Agency.

The hospital has also agreed to make a special workload payment retroactive for two months, which ranges from ISK 15,000 to ISK 30,000 (USD 117-234, EUR 88-175) per month, visir.is reports.

The almost 300 nurses who have resigned have until midnight tonight to withdraw their resignations, otherwise they will miss out on the workload payment.

“We emphasized that basic salaries are equal for all and … that additional education will be rewarded to a higher extent,” chair of the Nurses’ Union Elsa B. Friðfinnsdóttir told Stöð 2 of their conditions.

Elsa added in an interview with Fréttablaðið that she believed most nurses appeared to be relatively content with the new contract.

She pointed out that it also includes a provision on further steps towards equal rights to salaries and better wages for nurses. The work on improving the profession’s wages will continue in the coming months.

Elsa stated that some nurses had already withdrawn their resignations. “We will know [tomorrow] what the situation is really like.”

The state will contribute ISK 400 million (USD 3.1 million, EUR 2.3 million) to cover part the pay raises but the hospital must cover the remaining costs, which director of Landspítali Björn Zoëga estimates will amount to almost ISK 200 million.

“We decided that if this would help solve the dispute it would be by far the better option to spend the next months in trying to find this money rather than having the hospital capsize,” Björn commented.

Further rationalization measures are not an option to provide additional funding for the pay raises, he said. “We must postpone some projects and decisions, or obtain further funding from the state—this is after all a state-run institution.”

According to Morgunblaðið, other healthcare workers are now also hoping for pay raises, including unspecialized physicians.

A representative of x-ray technicians, many of whom have also resigned from their positions at Landspítali, commented to RÚV yesterday that x-ray technicians would not be content with such terms as the nurses have now agreed to.

Minister of Welfare Guðbjartur Hannesson stated on RÚV’s Rás 2 radio program Morgunútvarpið this morning that the new contract can be considered as the first step towards counteracting the gender-based wage gap.

The wages of other underpaid professions must now be reconsidered, Guðbjartur added. “The unexplained gender-based wage gap is a disgrace. It has been decided to correct the difference in wages … of which healthcare workers are among those most affected.”

Click here to read more about the wage dispute.

ESA