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Agreement in Doctors-State Wage Dispute in Sight

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Agreement in Doctors-State Wage Dispute in Sight

Landspítali National University Hospital

Landspítali National University Hospital. Photo: Sverrir H. Geirmundsson.

It is hoped that an agreement can be reached in the wage dispute between the Icelandic Medical Association and the Icelandic state tomorrow or on Thursday. Doctors are currently on strike and will not resume work until Friday unless an agreement is reached by then.

“Some issues are finished apart from certain details on which we still disagree. So we are both moving forwards and backwards,” Gunnar Björnsson, chair of the state’s negotiation committee, told RÚV after the last meeting ended at 00:30 am last night.

“We are working on the smaller issues,” said epidemiologist Bryndís Sigurðardóttir, who is on the doctors’ negotiation committee. “The bigger issues are still being discussed and talks have been going all right in the past two days.”

“We all realize what the situation is like right now because of the strike and what it will be like in the case of further strikes,” added Bryndís. She doesn’t expect something to come up now to upset negotiations. “People are talking. That is clear.”

The current wage contract from 2006 is being fundamentally changed, which requires lengthy discussions. Negotiations are also complicated given that there are three different groups of doctors in the Icelandic Medical Association: specialists at hospitals, general doctors at hospitals and general practitioners at healthcare centers.

Doctors emphasize a basic salary increase, originally by 30 percent. Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson stated last week that the state had made its final offer in that respect and doctors say they have gone back on their original salary demand.

Surgeons are also currently negotiating their wages with the state.

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