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Nurses Remain Angry After Rejecting Pay Deal

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Nurses Remain Angry After Rejecting Pay Deal

Landspítali National University Hospital

Photo: Sverrir H. Geirmundsson.

Nurses who have quit their jobs at Landspítali hospital remain angry and say they intend to stand by their decision to leave—not least because there are plenty of jobs available for them in the other Nordic countries. Nurses yesterday rejected the pay deal offered to them by the State, by a margin of 88.4 percent.

Ingibjörg Linda Sigurðardóttir, an anesthetist nurse, says, “We feel we are being treated with little respect.” Linda and her husband, who is also a nurse, have both quit their jobs—saying that the authorities simply do not take nurses seriously. The couple have both worked abroad before and plan to do so again.

258 nurses have resigned from their jobs, which is around 18 percent of the total number at Landspítali, Iceland’s biggest hospital. This number includes 61 percent of nurses on intensive care wards.

The head of intensive care told Vísir that her department will become inoperable if all the resigning nurses stick to their decision—adding that she does not see any changing their minds if a better pay deal is not offered.

Neither the nurses’ union nor the government are surprised at the pay and conditions deal being rejected, but they disagree on what to do next. The nurses want to go back to the negotiating table, while the government believes the law is clear: the negotiations failed and now it is the turn of a special ‘court’ to convene to make a fair and impartial new contract for nurses, without consulting either the union or the State.

The union warns that the ‘court’ would likely not come up with a significantly better deal for nurses than has already been offered and that a new contract cannot be forced upon nurses if they simply quit their jobs.

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