Hospital strike aborted by force

Ullevål University Hospital strikeUllevål University Hospital. Photo:

Hospital strike aborted with forced wage settlement

The Norwegian government aborted the hospital strike on Sunday by means of a forced wage settlement. This due to the danger to life and health. The employee organisations are disappointed.

“I strongly dislike this, but I have no choice but to abort the strike because of the danger of life and health; especially to the cancer patients in Østfold,” Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Anniken Hauglie (Conservatives), states.

The Cabinet Minister summoned the parties in the labour dispute in the hospital sector to a meeting at 4 pm. There she informed that it was going to be a forced wage settlement. The reason is that the notified escalation of the hospital strike, according to a report from the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, would lead to a risk to life and health.

“When the Norwegian Board of Health reports this, intervention is needed. I summoned the parties to a meeting now, outlined the report and heard if there is another way to resolve this. When they reply that there isn’t, the wage settlement must be by force,” Hauglie tells NTB.

The hospital strike started on May 29th and was first stepped up on June 11th. Six health enterprises are affected.

The employees strike for the pension to be calculated from the first cent. Those who work within the so-called Spectre areas must currently work at least 20 per cent before a pension is calculated in. This means that temps or, for example, typically women, who work part-time for a few hours only, don’t receive occupational pensions.

Disappointment over abortion of the strike

The head of the Professional Union (Fagforbundet), Mette Nord, believes the government is undermining the right to strike by aborting the strike.

“We are surprised, disappointed and angry that the government is aborting the hospital strike with a forced wage settlement. It is highly provocative that the right-wing government interferes with the right to strike and prevents a fight we lead for some of those with the worst conditions in Norwegian working life,” she exclaims.

Leader of YS Spekter and Federation Leader of Delta, Lizzie Ruud Thorkildsen, believes that the strike has been prudent and that the striking unions have taken the necessary consideration to life and health.

“We take note of this as a serious partner in the workplace, but we are very disappointed that it happens. That’s because we are fighting for an important matter. Pension from the first cent should be a matter of course for everyone,” she tells NTB.

Ruud Thorkildsen emphasises that they will continue the fight for pensions from the first cent even if the strike is over.



Forced to intervene

Minister of Health, Anniken Hauglie, explains that the report the government received from the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, regarding the notified escalation, shows that the strike would affect critical functions in several hospitals.

“It is very serious. The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision believes that the strike must be aborted. If not, there will be a danger to life and health. I was, therefore, forced to intervene,” the Minister of Health explains.

She refutes the accusations by the employee organisation.

“It surprises me very much. They know very well that when the Norwegian Board of Health believes that there is a danger to life and health, the Parliament and the government have no other option but to pay heed to it,” Hauglie retorts.

The trade unions have previously stated that they have been cautious about taking out too many in strikes to avoid being slammed with forced wage settlement, which happens automatically if the strike threatens life and health.

Spekter is pleased

The employer association Spekter says, in turn, that they are ready to put the strike behind it.

“We take note of the Government’s decision regarding forced wage settlement. It is good that the strike that LO/YS initiated is over. This entails that the operation of the hospitals can be resumed and the offer to the patients normalised,” Director of Spekter, Anne-Kari Bratten, comments.

The hospital staff announced a further escalation of the strike on Monday. YS Spekter informed that they would add another 56 Delta members to the strike, while LO would step up by a total of 87 members.

In total, 810 hospital employees would have been on strike as of Monday, if the Norwegian government had not put its foot down.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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