Health care strike spreads again

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A strike by ambulance personnel and some workers at selected hospitals around Norway dragged into its third week on Monday, and spread over the weekend with another 191 union members walking off the job.

More than 500 state health care employees are now on strike from Kristiansand in the south to Tromsø in the north, disrupting health care services at a time when many other hospital workers already are off on summer holidays.

The strike over pay and benefits began June 29 and was expanded a week later, when there had been no movement towards a settlement. 

By Tuesday around 540 ambulance drivers, hospital cooks, hospital receptionists and other hospital support staff will be on strike after being joined by more colleagues in Oslo, Trondheim, Førde, Bergen, Tromsø, Bodø and Harstad. Among those expanding the strike in Oslo were 22 more ambulance drivers.

That’s forcing some hospitals to keep patients who otherwise needed to be sent by ambulance to other hospitals or nursing homes, which in turn causes capacity problems for accepting new patients.

There still hasn’t been any contact between employers’ organization Spekter and unions YS (Yrkesorganisasjonenes Sentralforbund) and Delta. 

The unions have accused some hospitals of trying to break the strike  by having supervisors take over lengthy shifts. “We maintain that the strike isn’t posing any danger to life or health, but the hospitals’ handling of it can lead to that,” one union negotiator told news bureau NTB.

The unions are demanding equal pay for equal work in the public sector, meaning higher wages for their members. Their state employers have claimed the unions’ wage expectations are unrealistic.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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