100,000 hospital workers to strike on November 20

On Wednesday, November 20th, hospital staff across the Netherlands will do the hospital variant of a strike - refuse to perform any of their non-emergency duties. This is the first national strike by hospital workers ever in the Netherlands, unions FNV, FBZ, NU'91 and CNV said, NOS reports.

The hospital workers are striking for a better collective bargaining agreement. The unions want a structural wage increase of 5 percent and an extra allowance on wages if employees are called up to work at the last minute. They also want measures to relieve the heavy workload. This collective labor agreement covers around 200 thousand employees at 83 hospitals. The academic hospitals are under a different agreement. The unions expect that at least half of the hospitals will participate in the strike.

The collective bargaining negotiations between the unions and the Dutch association of hospitals NVZ stranded in June. The first labor actions started in July. Hospitals started working on 'Sunday services' - operating rooms, nursing departments and radiology departments, among others, closed for non-emergency cases. Thousands of employees in 25 hospitals have taken part in such actions. FNV estimates that around 20 thousand patients have been affected by labor actions so far.

At the end of September, the NVZ made a new proposal - a 4 percent wage increase for all employees in 2020 and 2021, and increasing the irregularity allowance from January 1st. That means an additional 2.5 percent pay rise for nurses. The unions rejected that proposal. The improvements are too marginal and goes with setbacks, they unions said. According to the unions, more is needed to keep the profession attractive - there are already shortages on the labor market and the outflow from healthcare is high.