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Nurses' unions issue new strike warning; Kanta-Häme walkout postponed

The Southwest Finland hospital district has also asked for a planned strike next week at a Turku University Hospital ICU to be postponed.

Nurses have been fighting for salary increases and a new collective agreement since last winter. A placard cites an 850-euro monthly pay gap between nurses and construction engineers. Image: Kimmo Gustafsson / Yle

The nurses' unions Tehy and SuPer have issued a strike warning aimed at Oulu University Hospital and the Kontinkangas welfare centre in the same northern city.

The labour organisations announced the strike threat on Monday as part of pressure tactics aimed at reaching a resolution in the collective agreement situation in the care sector. The four-day strike is scheduled to begin in about two weeks, on 13 September.

The unions have previously issued strike warnings for southwest Finland and Kanta-Häme, among other regions.

Also on Monday, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment postponed a threatened 24-hour walkout at the intensive care unit of Kanta-Häme Central Hospital by two weeks. The one-day strike was to have begun on Friday.

The ministry ruled that the strike cannot begin before 16 September.

The delay was requested earlier in the day by National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara, who has been mediating in the labour dispute for just over a week. It was approved by Labour Minister Tuula Haatainen of the prime minister's Social Democratic Party, which has close ties to the labour movement.

The Hospital District of Southwest Finland has also asked for a planned strike in its area to be postponed, the newspaper Turun Sanomat reported on Monday. The four-day strike is to begin on Tuesday, targeting an ICU at the Turku University Hospital. It would involve some 200 Tehy and SuPer members.

Union leader: "Government will be held accountable"

Earlier in August, Tehy and SuPer issued three more strike warnings and announced a stricter ban on overtime and shift changes from the beginning of September.

"The political decision-makers must wake up. The social and healthcare sector has been withered by years of under-resourcing and the shortage of nurses has been allowed to drift into a crisis that affects all citizens," SuPer chair Silja Paavola said in a press release on Monday.

"Resolving this deadlock is not just a labour-market issue," asserted Tehy chair Millariikka Rytkönen. "There is a major shortfall in in social and healthcare funding and in just a few months the government will be held accountable for it," she said, referring to parliamentary elections scheduled for April.

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