Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said that the mass resignation of nurses that is still ongoing is “intended to influence collective bargaining negotiations.”
Stundin reports that Bjarni, speaking to listeners of the radio programme Helgarútgáfan on State Radio outlet Rás 2 yesterday morning, said that he believes the resignation of close to 200 of Iceland’s nurses in just the past week alone is a negotiation tactic.
“These resignations are, of course, just a part of the collective bargaining negotiations,” he said. “These resignations are intended to have a similar effect of a strike, that is to say, they are intended to influence collective bargaining negotiations.”
Hallgrímur Thorsteinsson, the host of the show, asked Bjarni if he was certain of this.
“Yes,” said Bjarni. “They hope that an agreement will be made while these resignations are happening.”
One week ago, parliament passed strike-breaking legislation that ordered nurses back to work. Immediately, 42 nurses resigned, and more resignations have followed since. Most recently, about a third of cancer ward nurses at Landspítali have resigned.
The situation has gained international attention, with the 1.3 million strong British trade union UNISON issuing a statement of solidarity for Iceland’s nurses, pointing out that the right to strike is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and calling upon the Icelandic government to repeal the legislation.
Recent nursing student graduates also donned black ribbons in protest to the wage divide between women and men with similar educational backgrounds.