Nurses and Academics to be Forced Back to Work? Skip to content

Nurses and Academics to be Forced Back to Work?

The latest contract negotiation between the BHM union of academics and the state ended last night with no agreement and a further meeting has not been scheduled.

Kristján Þór Júlíusson, the Minister for Health, said in a radio interview yesterday that if an agreement was not made by the end of the day “other means” would be looked at.

It is widely anticipated that this could mean a new law being passed to force striking academics and nurses back to work. The chairman of BHM says that would make ten weeks of striking a waste of time and making highly educated jobs in Iceland, such as vets, lawyers and radiologists, no more attractive than they are now. She suggests instead that the finance ministry should dismantle the state contract negotiation committee and pass the role over to the Federation of Icelandic Labor, RÚV reports.

Head of the nurses’ union, Ólafur G. Skúlason, told reporters he already knows of nurses who have quit their jobs and he fears the laws to force nurses back to work will only make things worse.

“I know that the situation at Landspítali hospital has become very bad,” Ólafur says. “I have unfortunately heard that nurses have already been handing in their resignation. I find that sad because we are today working on increasing nurses’ wages and making the job competitive against other university-trained jobs so that we will be able to man the health system in the future,” he adds.

A law to force nurses back to work will provide immediate relief to the healthcare system, but will be bad in the long-term, as nurses are needed all over the world and Iceland needs to keep its well-educated and well-trained nurses instead of letting them go to better-paid jobs overseas, Ólafur reasons.

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