After three weeks of selective strike action in hospitals involving several public service unions, the government has used its powers to force an end to the action and refer the matter to a national labour tribunal which will meet in October. The strike was over pensions and ensuring that all hospital workers have a right to a pension from the first Krone earned. The government claimed a threat to health when the unions decided to step up the action. It has intervened in this way in the past, most recently in November 2018 in a dispute involving the NSF nurses' union (see epsucob@NEWS 22, 2018).
Government intervenes to end hospital strike
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Trade unions have reacted angrily to the decision by the government to curtail debate over pension reforms by using a constitutional mechanism to pass legislation by ordonnance rather than the normal parliamentary process. Some unions organised demonstrations across the country at short notice to underline their continuing opposition to the reforms. Others were concerned about the method used to close down debate when there are still major issues still to be resolved, particularly in relation to pension for workers in arduous occupations.
In 2016 unions reluctantly negotiated a competitiveness pact that involved an additional 24 hours' work a year with no extra pay, a 30% cut in holiday pay for public sector workers and a transfer of pension contributions from employers to employees. In anticipation of the next bargaining round some unions have already confirmed that they want the additional hours to be cut. Unions are particularly unhappy that while workers saw an increase in working time and an effective cut in take-home pay to deliver the pact, the employers failed to deliver on their side of the bargaining with more