The Tehy and SuPer trade unions representing nurses and other medical staff have set out plans for strike action to give impetus to the negotiations in health and social services. The two unions want to see positive action on salaries and have set out a five-year rescue programme for the health and social services sector. This includes increases to the basic wage level of 3.6% annually in addition to the normal contract increases that protect purchasing power. With women making up 90% of the care workforce, the unions argue that this is an essential measure to address the persistent gender pay gap in the country. Tehy and SuPer point out that the low-paid workers in health and social care have had to deal with intensified work and increase workloads and that this needs to be addressed through better pay and conditions or the sectors will continue to lose workers to other sectors.
Nurses’ unions plan strike action over pay
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Following the rejection of the mediation proposal last month, nurses have continued their strike action for higher pay. The DSR nursing union membership voted to reject the public sector deal negotiated earlier this year because it failed to address low pay in the sector. The union has been highlighting recent data to support their case including a fall in applications for nursing education to the lowest level since 2013. The union also found that 5% of nurses had left the profession last month because of low pay and overwork and that pay for overtime had cost employers over DKK 500 million in
The DSR nurses’ union has given notice that it will extend its strike action over pay to more health institutions around the country and it also organised a national demonstration in Copenhagen on 14 August. Members of the union voted to reject the national public sector collective agreement earlier this year because it failed to tackle the longstanding issue of the undervaluing of nursing occupations. The strike began on 14 June and the union has announced five extensions in advance with the latest one planned for 7 September involving a further 281 nurses.
After 10 weeks of action, the strike coordinated by the DSR nurses’ union was brought to an end by government intervention. This means that a recommendation by the conciliation commission will be imposed even though it had been rejected by a large majority of DSR members. The union argues that the government is deaf to the long-standing demands of nurses over the unfair pay structure in the public sector. Some nurses have continued to take unofficial action despite the imposition of a settlement and the threat of fines if they continue. The union says that the focus now shifts to the work of