From Iceland — Doctors On Strike

Doctors On Strike

Published October 27, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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About 300 doctors are now on strike as collective bargaining negotiations remain at a stand-still.

Vísir reports that the strike began at midnight after talks failed to reach any satisfiable resolution. In all, about 300 doctors from various health clinics, as well as from the research departments of the children’s and women’s wards of the National Hospital, are taking part.

At the same time, those doctors participating in the strike are granted an exception to practice emergency services while the strike is ongoing, which is expected to last 72 hours if an agreement is not reached sooner. However, Þorbjörn Jónsson, the chairperson of the Doctors’ Society of Iceland (LIS), told reporters that “there is no agreement in sight”, while at the same time providing assurances that “We do not want any patient to be negatively affected by the strike.”

The striking doctors have received statements of support from other professionals in the medical field, including the labour unions of nurses, biomedical scientists, midwives and psychiatrists.

The decision to strike received overwhelming support within LIS, with 95% of those participating voting in favour.

The reasons behind the strike concern not solely their salaries – though they have said that the 2.8%-3% pay rise the government is offering is too low – but also an increasing workload in Iceland’s health clinics, which are reportedly understaffed and underequipped.

“Something needs to be done to keep the health care system from falling over, and it’s already on its knees,” Gunnlaugur Sigurjónsson, a chief of surgery from Árbær, told reporters. “You’re withering under the workload, there are no new doctors to be found, and sometimes it feels like the health clinics are keeling over.”

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