From Iceland — Nurses' Strike Called Off In Response To New Arbitration Proposal

Nurses’ Strike Called Off In Response To New Arbitration Proposal

Published June 22, 2020

Poppy Askham
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Organisers called off a planned strike by the Icelandic Nurses Association last night, hours before it was scheduled to start, RÚV reports.

The strike over nurse’s wages and working conditions was scheduled to start at 8:00 this morning, but was cancelled due to an arbitration proposal drawn up by the state mediator.

The cancellation of the strike will come as a relief for the state authorities as there had been concern that it could cause severe disruption to COVID-19 screenings currently being carried out at Keflavík airport.

Icelandic nurses have been working without a valid contract for over a year.  Thirty meetings between union leaders and state representatives have been held since the dispute was handed over to a state mediator in February this year. Agreement has been reached on arrangements for shift work, but the dispute over nurses’ wages is yet to be resolved.

The state mediator, Aðalsteinn Leifsson, warns that the disagreement between the Icelandic government and the Nurses’ Union has reached such a severe level that it may not be solved through negotiations. As a result, the state mediator submitted a new arbitration proposal outlining all the decisions that have been previously agreed upon and referring unresolved issues to a special arbitration panel.

Union members and the Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson will vote on the proposal later this week.

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