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STT: Nurses could not afford a second strike

Healthcare unions abandoned their strike last month over money, reports Finnish news agency STT.

Nurses' unions called off a second strike planned for April. The unions now say they are making preparations for a campaign of mass resignations by healthcare workers. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

A prolonged nurses' strike would have significantly dented the coffers of nurses' unions Tehy and Super, STT said on Sunday. The news agency cited union documents filed with the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.

While the unions' financial situation is a closely guarded secret, statements from last year indicate that the unions had a combined industrial action fund of 85 million euros. Two major strikes in April would have cost the union around 115 million euros, with striking nurses receiving 140 euros a day in strike pay.

In early April, 25,000 nurses went on strike for two weeks. In mid-April the unions announced another healthcare strike encompassing 35,000 workers. But the unions called off the second strike at the last minute after Minister for Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) introduced strike-breaking legislation which, if passed into law, would have forced nurses back to work under the auspice of patient safety.

Tehy chair Millariikka Rytkönen, however, denied that money was the reason her union and Super called off the second strike in April.

She said the unions cancelled the planned industrial action as the proposed law would have effectively forced striking nurses to return to work.

"Let's put it this way: there's no point in us wasting our money just for Aki Lindén's sake," Rytkönen told STT.

Nurses' unions have now said they are preparing a plan for mass resignations.

Rytkönen declined to say whether the unions were planning compensation packages for resigning nurses.

"Would I be a very good poker player if I showed you my hand?" Rytkönen asked.

Neither Tehy nor Super have indicated when mass resignations would begin.

A conciliation committee is expected to present a proposal in the healthcare sector dispute on Tuesday.