A survey conducted among Icelandic midwives in March revealed that they would like to see their starting full-time salaries to increase over ISK 200,000 [$2,000], a roughly 45% increase, RÚV reports. The current starting full-time salary for midwives is ISK 460,000 [$4,600], while average full-time wages are over ISK 600,000 [$6,000]. Few midwives, however, actually hold full-time positions, which is an important contributing factor in their wage considerations.
Wage negotiations between the Icelandic Association of Midwives and the state have been ongoing for months, with midwives asserting that their wages are not commensurate with those earned by other professionals with equivalent levels of 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. According to Iceland’s Minister of Finance and former Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, however, the midwives’ demands are “completely unreasonable.”
Although full-time wages for midwives are relatively high, it is important to note that very few midwives actually have full-time positions at hospitals or clinics around the country. Instead, most midwives work about 65%. Based on that work schedule, then, a newly graduated midwife earns about ISK 300,000 [$3,000] a month, with average wages of ISK 372,000 [$3,700]. Taking into account bonuses and any additional earnings (for night work, weekend shifts, etc.), their average wages come to ISK 573,000 [5,700].
The Icelandic Midwives Association has not as yet confirmed the exact salary request that they’ve made during their negotiations with the government. However, they have made it clear that they want their baseline full-time salary to be increased so that part-time workers who only make a percentage of that amount will still make a reasonable living wage.