Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen has brought charges against the Midwives’ Association of Iceland in the Icelandic Court of Labor Disputes for mass resignations. Ninety-six midwives have tendered their resignations, which will take effect at the beginning of October, after the end of the last in the series of strikes.
Mathiesen wants the resignations to be ruled illegal on grounds that these mass resignations were tendered as a conspiratorial action, ruv.is reports.
Chairman of the Midwives’ Association Gudlaug Einarsdóttir told Fréttabladid that she is surprised that the minister would bring charges against the very group with whom he’s meant to negotiate.
Einarsdóttir claims that the midwives decided to resign at the same time because of remarks made by the leader of the state’s negotiation committee, who said that the committee had not changed its mind on the role of midwives since 1962.
Einarsdóttir told RÚV that these remarks caused much anger among midwives, because they indicated that the fight for improved wages, equality and women’s rights for the past 50 years had not delivered any results. Although men are welcome to the profession, there are only female midwives in Iceland.
Fréttabladid reported that the Midwives’ Association had held a meeting last night with their lawyer to discuss the latest development in their fight for improved wage conditions including a 25 percent increase in salaries.
The second in the series of strikes staged by the association is ongoing. Four children were born in Landsspítali – University Hospital in Reykjavík last night and others are on the way. Despite the strike, a few midwives are on call. One of them told ruv.is that everything is going fine although staff is under a lot of pressure.
Yesterday, during the first day of the strike, 17 children were born, which is an unusually high number. An average of eight to nine children are born every 24 hours at Landsspítali. Every bed in the post-natal ward is occupied and extra beds have been added to every room.
Because of the strike, expectant mothers from the countryside have to come to Reykjavík to give birth.
Lárus Gunnarsson and Sonja Vidarsdóttir from the Sudurnes region on the Reykjanes peninsula told Fréttabladid that the birth of their daughter had been stressful last night. They were trying to rest in the hallway of Landsspítali because all the rooms were full.
When they turned to the hospital in Reykjanesbaer municipality they were told to drive on to Reykjavík. Gunnarsson said that labor has gone quickly so the 47-kilometer drive to Reykjavík had been nerve-wracking.
Representatives of the Midwives’ Association and the state’s negotiation committee meet again today at 3 pm.
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