The first in a series of midwife strikes went into effect after midnight on Wednesday and will last until midnight tonight (Friday). The next strike is scheduled for Thursday of next week and every week throughout the month unless an agreement is reached.
At the National/University Hospital last night nine births had taken place before dinner without incident, although these shifts were quite taxing on the reduced staff. However, increased strain on staff is expected over the weekend as expectant parents are likely to have put off attending to minor issues during the strike, but will seek assistance now that midwives have returned, Morgunbladid [05.09.2008] reports.
Gudlaug Einarsdóttir, president of the Association of Icelandic Midwives, has stated that operating with a skeleton crew has become a permanent situation in the postnatal ward and it gets worse every year. In struggling over these wage contracts they hope to prevent being made to operate with a skeleton crew in the future, which is precisely what these strikes demonstrate.
The strike has carried in tow certain unavoidable inconveniences for parents, inclduing the closure of the “Nest” postnatal facilities, where new parents have single rooms and are made as comfortable as possible after a birth.
However, there was no need to release women from the postnatal ward prematurely to free up beds yesterday. All basic services in obstetrics are still available and The Association of Icelandic Midwives has opened up a hotline (571-0000) where expectant mothers can seek support and information from midwives.