2007-10-15

Twelve thousand and eight hundred resignations

It's a big number:

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals, Tehy, says 12,800 of its members will join in a mass resignation effective from November 19, if salary demands are not met.

An overtime ban will also come into force on October 1. University hospitals in Helsinki, Tampere and Oulu are among those affected by the ban and mass resignations.

"It's really sad that trained healthcare workers are obliged to defend their salary goals with such force," said Tehy's chair Jaana Laitinen-Pesola. She added that the mass resignations would paralyze the entire health care system.

Politicians can hardly afford to let the healthcare system paralyze, so I guess henceforth nurses get to name their terms in all future pay negotiations. One wonders why Tehy didn't think of just not taking care of patients before. It seems like such an obvious move with no effective counter.

Fire fighters take note. Have you considered not putting out fires?

17 comments:

egan said...

Everyone has the right to withdraw their labour. If you're not paying enough to keep them, best do something about it.

Ari said...

They aren't moving to other lines of work because this one doesn't pay enough. Rather, they're resigning to avoid limitations on their right to strike that are intended to protect patients. They've calculated that they can get more money by threatening to put patients at risk.

And yes, they have the right to do that.

Aapo said...

If Tehy will have it their way, it will mean bad times for quite a few Finnish municipalities - assuming that the government won't compromise its stance and bail them out.

So if you want to find something positive about it, the mass resignation may well trigger further reforms across the board. The health care districts are forced to revise their distribution of labour and make the system less fragmented for such a sparsely populated country, and individual hospitals have to do the same regarding who does what in workplaces.

But what would make Tehy - apparently so keen on comparing Finnish nurse pay to Britain and Sweden - acknowledge that one main reason behind the difference is a more local and less unionised bargaining system? Why does a nurse in Kajaani deserve the same wage as her colleague in Helsinki?

Yours,
"Still waiting my bank account documents and two pay cheques thanks to the Communication Workers Union"

Jonathon Martin said...

In theory they, and the firefighters, could do this all the time and demand €3,000 per month basic salary. In practice though, this tactic only works if the general population don't think they are being greedy. The moment they do, all hell will break loose and they would be vilified. Nurses are very poorly paid by all accounts, which is why they will win this one. I doubt teachers would have the same success because the general perception is that they are paid well given that they have long holidays.

egan said...

I don't think nurses pay in the Uk is more local, although it could well be less unionised. Here are a couple of links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/2237018.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6697167.stm

What is definitely different is that nurses can rise higher and faster and take on a lot more responsibilities in the UK. Grades and pay levels are centrally negotiated (with London weighting to balance out the costs of living in the capital).

I was a bit chocked on my first visit to a Finnish A&E department to being asked for 15 euros, but waiting 2 hours before anyone took my blood pressure or did anything even vaguely triage-like.

There was an old lady there who waited 5 hours before a doctor - yes, a doctor - gave her a tetanus jab.

Hopefully this will stimulate reform of these 'idiosyncracies' in the Finnish healthcare system.

egan said...

And I'm glad to see the posties holding firm, even darn sarf.

Aapo said...

Well, I don't think that the distribution of labour is exactly optimal within the NHS either - given that ninety patients have recently died because no one was there to change their diapers and take care of basic hygiene.

The posties are wankers. You could routinely choose your sides if it were be just about 'fairer' salary and workload, but this whine is over the pensions - which makes their cause simply illegitimate in my eyes. The current system is unsustainable, and you either reform it now and carry your share of the responsibility, or be a wanker and let the next cohorts to clean up the mess.

egan said...

The current system is based on the employers having taken a 'contributions holiday' for 15 years. There are definitely wankers and there is definitely unsustainability in that system, but I'm sure as shit not going to blame the workers.

And yeah, I'd agree that care standards in the NHS can leave a lot to be desired. But I simply don't recognise the pictures being painted in the media of uncaring nurses forcing old people to shit in their pyjamas. there have always been agendas in reporting on the NHS, from the Daily Mail arguing it's all because the evil lesbian feminazis think cleaning is beneath them, to the swoppies blaming privatised cleaning.

Personally I've worked in a nursing home in Sheffield, and I think the staff provided a good standard of care, despite earning very little money. I don't know what might have happened since, but the solutions offered to the current story will always have an ideological tint.

Ari said...

Jonathon, that's a fair point about popular opinion. At least widespread disapproval of the nurses' tactics would make the issue a little less radioactive from the government's point of view. But even in that case the powers-that-be can't allow the health care system to be paralyzed for long, or the consequent deaths will soon have them glowing in the dark, no matter how the general public judges the pay demands.

Aapo said...

The current system is based on the employers having taken a 'contributions holiday' for 15 years.

I meant that currently the pension is defined out of the final salary, and not of the career average. Some decades ago it surely was business as usual, but the fact that the retirement age hasn't risen on the par with longevity makes it financially unsustainable and demographically unfair.

It's a pan-European dilemma, and in most places it has proven unsolvable. But that doesn't mean you sholdn't try to solve it.

As for the NHS, I think that in Finland you're just better off if not drawing any lessons from there. If ninety (90) patients in total die in two different hospitals because the conditions have been so crappy - and very literally so - the system must suck big big time. It makes a bad benchmark, if you ask me.

egan said...

But local management of care and cleaning contracts in the NHS is what caused the Kent problem. You cannot draw any wider conclusions (except possibly that outsourcing is a false economy).

I think pensions will not be the make or break issue in the strike. The pay offer was 2.5% (ie £8 a week), contingent on ending payments for early hours shifts and delivering crappy leaflets (worth a total of £42).

If you wanted a reasonable debate on the future of pensions, is that how you'd go about securing it? Crozier can go fuck himself.

Aapo said...

Of course it has been the decisive issue - the longterm stakes are so much higher there, regarding the finances of Royal Mail or of any individual postman.

And yep, that NHS remark was too generalised - just wanted to point that if you wanna picture the Finnish reality according to your own experiences, you should remember that some NHS trusts seem to provide even juicier stories...

egan said...

Come on Aapo. Do you seriously think that a trade union would say 'OK, we'll accept the £34 a week pay cut just so long as you don't touch our pensions'?

Management are acting the cunt and I hope their wankery bites them on the arse. I don't think pensions will be the same after this dispute, and I'm willing to bet any amount of money on that.

Aapo said...

Aye, that is quite what I think. In the scheme of things, the pension yardstick (final vs. average pay) and the retirement age (60 vs. 65 years) are so much bigger an issue that, if it were only possible, the CWU would accept even a bigger pay cut than the one you proposed. And why wouldn't they, assuming that they're rational in their self-interest?

See it yourself: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7039138.stm

egan said...

'if they were rational' they would know that only one trade union has managed to keep it's final salary scheme open, and that is the RMT who represent train drivers. Given that privatisation brought an increase in subsidies and profits for companies running appalling, expensive services, it's only fair they get a piece of the pie too.

Postal workers cannot hope to achieve this, but Crozier's proposal (£35 a week pay cut, workers make up the shortfall in pensions caused by the RM taking a 15 year 'contributions holiday' - ie stealing money from their employees) are the actions of a cunt. He can go fuck himself for that alone, let alone the new working practices.

He caved a few months ago btw, only to go back on his word. He really is the cunt's cunt.

Aapo said...

Ok, thanks for sharing this.

I must be reading wrong newspapers and watching wrong TV channels.

egan said...

The CWU have been appalling at getting their message across in this dispute, you only have to look at their website to see that. Journalists are lazy cunts (ask yourself how I know this), and tend to side with the government since the Hutton inquiry.

The Post Office has been providing a much shitter service for a much higher price in recent years, with branch closures and cuts in staff numbers. This has led to people doing a fuck of a lot more work for no extra pay, and a new generation of aggressive managers have been provoking disputes in some centres.

The aggression and duplicity of management here is the problem, not workers demanding final salary pensions. I'll offer that bet again, just in case you've changed your mind. Pensions are not and never have been the biggest or most intractable problem in this dispute.