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Labour conciliator seeks new solution after nurses' proposal rejection

Nurses unions want a multi-year programme of investment to improve their salaries above normal cost-of-living raises. 

Nurses unions held a demonstration in Helsinki on 1 April. Image: Lehtikuva

National Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala is to talk to both sides in the ongoing nurses strike this week, even though no official negotiations are scheduled.

Last week, unions rejected a proposal from Piekkala to end the dispute.

Piekkala tweeted on Tuesday that the work of conciliation was "slow, because it is difficult", but said meetings would occur this week with different parties.

Millariikka Rytkönen, chair of the Tehy nursing union, said soon afterwards that unions' main negotiators would meet Piekkala this week. According to Rytkönen, no official negotiations are scheduled.

Employer representative KT, the Association for Local and County and Government Employers, also said they were engaging in talks organised by the conciliator, supplying necessary information and were ready to continue talks to resolve the dispute.

Unions Tehy and Super had criticised Piekkala on Monday for not sending new invitations to talks.

The unions had rejected a proposal last week, and Piekkala had responded by saying the conditions to continue talks were not currently in place.

The unions want to raise nurses' salaries by 3.5 percent over five years, over and above the annually agreed pay deals. To bolster their demands, they have called strikes in six hospital districts from last Friday, and if the dispute is not resolved, that will expand to seven other hospital districts next Friday.

At that point, some 40,000 nurses could be on strike.

KT has claimed the pay demands are unsustainable for the public finances, and that they would lead to increased public debt and higher rates of taxation.