From Iceland — Minister Hints At Legislation Against Nurses Strike

Minister Hints At Legislation Against Nurses Strike

Published June 1, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson told parliament this morning that he cannot rule out legislation that would end the nurses’ strike. The director of the Icelandic Nurses’ Association told reporters that such legislation “would add fuel to the fire”.

Left-Greens chairperson Katrín Jakobsdóttir asked the minister whether or not he considers it a possibility to enact legislation on the nurses’ strike, RÚV reports, which began six days ago.

“Of course it’s a possibility,” he told parliament. “The answer to this question is yes, it should be possible. There are examples of passing laws on strikes, and in the situation we’re in now, I don’t want to rule anything out,” adding that he wanted to “think outside the box” if talks with management are getting nowhere.

Ólafur G. Skúlason, the director of the Icelandic Nurses’ Association, told RÚV that such legislation would not solve the problem, but would “add fuel to the fire” in driving nurses away from Iceland.

“I have heard from some nurses that if a law is passed [ordering them back to work], they will not accept this,” he said. “As I have said before, we are trying to ensure that we have nurses here in the long term, and have them working in Iceland. We are losing them to other professions, and to nursing jobs overseas, and I think that [this law] would just add fuel to the fire.”

In total, 2,100 nurses in Iceland are currently on strike, including 1,400 at the National University Hospital.

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