Icelandic Midwives Walking Out, Negotiations Ongoing — The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Midwives Walking Out, Negotiations Ongoing

Published July 2, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Hilda Fridfinnsdottir/Facebook

The labour dispute between midwives and the state continues, as 12 midwives at the Landspítali hospital and others around the country have walked off. Public sentiment is rallying behind them, and the midwives are only asking for salaries that are in harmony with similar professions.

As reported last April, midwives have been in ongoing negotiations with the government for two years now. At the heart of these negotiations are low salaries. Four years of nursing school and two more years in specialised training is the bare minimum for practicing midwifery, but they are still paid less than nurses — so much less, in fact, that they are often obliged to pick up extra shifts just to make ends meet.

In a country that has recently witnessed the salaries of CEOs raise at a rate four times greater than the general public, Icelanders have shown increasing support for the midwives.

Negotiations have been untenable, and RÚV now reports that 12 midwives have walked off the job, turning in their work shoes and badges in the process. Numerous midwives in the countryside have walked out as well.

The work shoes have become emblematic of the labour dispute. Fréttablaðið reports that the midwives held a demonstration at the government offices yesterday, where they left their work shoes on the steps of the building.

The midwives are currently in state arbitration, and will meet again with government representatives on Thursday.

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