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Possible resolution of nurses' strike on the horizon

The two sides in the long-running dispute are to respond to a compromise bid by 6 pm on Monday.

KT chair Markku Jalonen (on the left), National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara in talks with union chairs in late August. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara has issued a settlement proposal in the labour dispute in the nursing sector.

The state labour mediator announced the settlement proposal on Twitter on Sunday evening, saying that the parties to the dispute must accept or reject the bid by 6 pm Monday.

The Tehy and Super unions are representing the nurses while and the Local Government and County Employers' group KT represents management.

When asked by Yle, the parties to the dispute declined to say whether they would accept the offer. The boards of the three organisations are meeting on Monday to weigh the details of the proposal.

The content of the settlement proposal will not be made public until the parties have given their answers.

Nurses demand bigger raises

The three groups have met frequently at Sajavaara's office in recent weeks amid a series of threatened strikes, most of which were postponed or overruled by courts and government authorities due to concerns over patient safety.

Two weeks ago, the centre-left government pushed through the controversial Patient Safety Act, which limits nurses' rights to strike. Super and Tehy condemned it as a forced labour law that would not help resolve the country's chronic nursing shortage.

No new strike warnings are pending at the moment. The District Court of Helsinki blocked strikes targeting intensive care units in Southwest Finland and Kanta-Häme, as well as in home care in Helsinki. The unions have promised striking nurses compensation of 100 euros per day for up to 45 days and a guarantee that they will get their jobs back.

Nursing unions have also threatened mass layoffs if their demands are not met. The threatened mass resignations would be aimed at specialised hospital care and home care, but the unions have not revealed any specific dates or targets.

Working conditions in the municipal sector have been hotly debated since the beginning of the year. A previous wage proposal by a conciliation board was accepted by other municipal employees' organisations, but Super and They have held out for better pay and conditions for nursing staff, who came under severe pressure during the Covid crisis.

The proposal accepted by other municipal employees' groups will assure them wage increases outpacing wage rises in export sectors by about one percent annually over the next five years.

The nurses' unions demand that their salary increases should be 3.6 percentage points higher than those in the export sectors, which have traditionally been more male-dominated and better-paid. The employers' group KT has called this "impossible".

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