Deal and no deal with nurses' unions

I present to you the likely number one political issue in the country for the next several weeks:

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) rejected an offered labour contract with Finnish municipalities on Saturday, paving the way for a possible strike. On Thursday the other main nurses' union, SuPer, approved the deal.

The PM is not amused:
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen called the Tehy nursing union's rejection of the local authorities' final contract offer "regrettable" but reiterated that the government would not offer any more money to raise municipal wages.

He said that tax cuts planned over the next few years would have to be cancelled if all wage agreements are as high as those reached so far.

My non-expert feeling is that Tehy's strike will flame out without any significant improvement in the offer. The deal they've been offered is relatively good, they reportedly don't have the money to withstand a long strike, and many of their fellow nurses who are represented by SuPer will keep working. On the flip side, they have the public opinion on their corner, at least on the outset, and the political pressure on the government will quickly become high.

The National Coalition Party might be wishing right about now that they'd never have emphasized the issue of nurses' pay during the election campaign like they did, because it threatens to come back to bite them and the government in a spectacular way. They didn't promise the infamous 500 euros, but it's still entirely reasonable to blame them for doing their part to set nurses' expectations unrealistically high. The opposition, meanwhile, will be doing what they can to support those expectations.

In conclusion, there's plenty of room here for both the government and Tehy to suffer some injuries.


egan said...

12% over two and a half years isn't much, it's barely above inflation. And for the NatCo to use their reluctance to strike against them is pretty fucking shoddy behaviour.

Ari said...

12% is about four percentage points more than what others have been getting and significantly more than what Tehy has accepted in previous go-arounds. I'd say it's a relatively good offer, although obviously it wasn't in line with what Tehy wants.

egan said...

'Slightly more than a disgracefully underpaid and overstretched workforce in the public sector usually gets' wouldn't have won many votes, would it?

Aapo said...

Come on Egan, you're a Briton: you people and your leaders can't tell budget deficit from budget surplus. As I'm not teaching anyone to spit in the streets of your home country, it's not fair at all from you to impose your bad ways on mine.

What's the median pay in Finnish public sector, by the way? Or the average working time per year? Do you have any idea?

egan said...

'median pay in Finnish public sector' is a bit of a straw man isn't it? And if working time is too short then you know what to do. But a lot of nurses are on 1500 a month, which is not very much at all. You can argue about their duties and reform and all of that stuff, but if you want to redress the balance of bad pay (as campaign rhetoric demanded) this deal does nowhere near enough.

And this isn't about budget deficits, it's about tax cuts for pensioners.

Ari said...

if you want to redress the balance of bad pay (as campaign rhetoric demanded) this deal does nowhere near enough.

It would do more than has been done before, which is why I have a difficult time seeing it as an insult. Even in campaign rhetoric, politicians usually acknowledged that the issue can't be fixed in one go.

sandy said...

It is terrible how the Finnish employers have exploited the nurses over the years,playing on their good hearts to the stage where they only receive 83% of the average european nurses salary.Shame on the employers.Good luck Tehy,hold out for your dignity and profession.