Hospital workers to go back on strike in mid-April, unions say
Hospital workers will again walk off the job in mid-April, when they will bring dozens of hospital staffing levels down so that only a basic level of care can be provided, similar to a normal Sunday. For the most part, only emergency care will continue. Rehabilitation centers will also participate in the strike, trade union FNV announced on Tuesday.
The FNV will wait until the end of March to announce exactly when the hospital staffs will go on strike in April. Otherwise, the labor action would have limited effect as operations and check-ups would be planned around the strike day. "That reduces the effect of the strike."
The Patient Federation of the Netherlands said it regrets that patients will likely be the ones who suffer again. The group has called upon "employers, employees and all other parties involved to quickly reach an agreement that will guarantee good hospital care for patients now and in the future."
The labor unions involved include FNV Zorg & Welzijn, CNV Zorg & Welzijn, employees' association FBZ and NU'91. They said they are disappointed in the employers' group, the Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ), because there is not yet a "decent collective labor agreement" for more than 200,000 employees in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The collective contract expired seven weeks ago at the end of January. According to FNV, a growing number of hospital employees are willing to take part in the labor action.
The unions want wages to rise immediately by 10 percent this year. They also want better agreements about working hours and scheduling. The hospitals have offered a staggered wage increase: 5 percent now, another 5 percent at the end of the year and 3 percent in 2024.
On March 16, hospital staff went on their first strike for a better collective bargaining agreement. Departments at 64 hospitals participated. Speeches were given at different locations, and employees in several hospitals took part in several sit-ins.
They wanted to show how the NVZ lets them down. Despite the Sunday service schedule, children and patients with cancer were treated normally in many hospitals.
The NVZ said on Tuesday that the unions should return to the bargaining table. The employers' association believes that the current offer is already very good.
Reporting by ANP