Two out of every three nurses are prepared to strike in order to improve their working conditions, according to a survey conducted by the Icelandic Nurses’ Association (FÍH) earlier this month. Nurses have been working without a contract for over a year, and wage negotiations between FÍH and the state have not proven successful. Nurses voted down a contract proposal signed by FÍH and the state in April.
According to the survey, which was conducted between May 7-10, nearly half of nurses are prepared to go on a general strike (49.6%) and 32.5% are prepared to go on an overtime strike in order to advance wage negotiations (respondents could select more than one option). Survey results also revealed that while nurses were satisfied with some of the rejected contract’s provisions – namely to shorten the workweek and adjust the working hours of shift workers – their biggest issue with the contract was that it did not raise nurses’ base salary enough.
FÍH chairperson Guðbjörg Pálsdóttir says the takeaway from the survey is obvious. “Nurses are sending a very clear message. They are ready to go quite far to receive a salary that takes into account their education and the responsibility of their job,” Guðbjörg told RÚV.
Guðbjörg says it is too early to say whether nurses will in fact take strike action, but the survey results will be helpful in ongoing negotiations. “We have presented this to the state’s negotiation committee. We have very clear guidelines from our members to follow.”