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Tentative Deal Reached in Nurses' Wage Dispute

According to information received by YLE, the Executive Board of the nurses' union Tehy has recommended exceptance of a tentative deal on pay and conditions reached last night. The union's general council is currently in session. Earlier, Rauno Vesivalo, a Tehy Union executive told YLE that anything less than a 20 percent increase will not suffice. Tehy's governing board gathered at 8 am Monday morning to discuss the tentative deal reached Sunday night.On Sunday evening,the panel negotiating the nurses' wage dispute agreed on a proposal for a settlement on Sunday evening. The four-year contract plan was approved unanimously by the negotiators. Tehy's 63-member General Council convened at 10 am Monday to consider the offer, following a meeting of its Executive Board at 8 am. The employers' group, which represents Finland's 416 municipalities and 200 joint municipal authorities, meets at 3 pm. Both sides must announce their decisions by 6 pm. As the deal has been signed by leaders of both parties to the dispute, rejection from either side is considered unlikely. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen welcomed the compromise and said he was confident that it would be approved. If either side rejects the deal, then some 12,800 municipal nurses could still quit their jobs on Monday night -- about a quarter of the nation's approximately 50,000 nurses. The tentative agreement brokered by state labour conciliator Juhani Salonius came after talks that had continued since Saturday afternoon with a break overnight. As the nine-member panel resumed negotiations around noon on Sunday, the two sides were reported to be somewhat closer on the remaining issue of pay rises. KT's Labour Relations Chief, Markku Jalonen, said during the day that the employers' side had made concessions in the pay dispute. All other contract issues were agreed last week. However Salonius still said he considered it likely that the mass walkouts would go ahead on Monday night. Work Orders Issued to Nurses

Meanwhile provincial authorities estimated that about 60 percent of the 2,400 essential-care nurses who would be ordered to work if they quit their jobs had been served with documents by Sunday evening.

The largest number receiving such letters, 750, are in the Helsinki-Uusimaa hospital district.

The letters were being issued at work to those with shifts this weekend. Orders are being delivered to the homes of the rest, but many have not been on hand to accept them.

The union has advised its members to comply with the orders should the mass resignations go ahead. However a few nurses have refused to accept the letters. Nurses who do not turn up for work as ordered would face fines.

The orders were authorised by the Patient Safety Act, which Parliament approved by a wide margin on Friday afternoon. It came into force on Saturday.

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