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Parliamentary Clash Over Nurses' Tactics

Parliamentary question time was dominated on Thursday by a fierce torrent of opposition comments over the government's action during the nurses' dispute. Parties on the opposition benches criticised Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen for siding with employers during the dispute.

The Social Democrats said the government had handled the nurses' dispute badly. SDP Parliamentary Chair Tarja Filatov said the right to engage in industrial action must not be restricted by law, it was a basic right. However, the main opposition party was supportive on the issue of new guidelines for action to protect the public in future disputes.

On Wednesday, Vanhanen said the nurses' threat of mass resignations was an excessive tactic and he called for legally enforced limits of the use of threats to solve industrial disputes. He reiterated to parliament his view that the opposition had acted irresponsibly during the crisis.

Vanhanen gained support from the Confederation of Finnish Industries. Its Chairman, Antti Herlin, said the action by the nurses' union had been unprecedented. He reminded the confederation had long called for clearer guidelines than at present to govern industrial disputes.


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