“The demands which have been put forth are completely unreasonable to the government negotiation committee,” said Minister of Finance and former Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson when discussing midwives’ wage demands, Kjarninn reports.
Wage negotiations between the Icelandic Association of Midwives and the state have been in a deadlock for months, with midwives asserting their salaries do not reflect their education or responsibilities. At least 13 midwives have resigned in recent months, citing poor working conditions and low wages, among other issues.
Bjarni reiterated it is not helpful to frame the issue as a lack of respect for midwives’ labour. He himself has four children born in Iceland, and recognizes the importance of the work, he remarked.
Midwives and their supporters protest outside the negotiations. The sign second from left reads 'Who delivered you? Bjarni Ben?' Photo: Mæður & feður standa með Ljósmæðrum!/Facebook.
The chairperson of the state’s negotiation committee is Gunnar Björnsson, office manager of the Ministry of Finance Economic Affairs. Bjarni stated the negotiations had been progressing well until midwives’ demands changed.
The details of the demands have not been released, though midwives have expressed the desire their wages reflect their education. Becoming a midwife in Iceland requires six to seven years of education, yet in many cases midwives experience a wage cut when entering the profession after having worked as nurses.