The Social and Health Association Tehy and the Association of Nurses (SuPer) have proposed "to save" a social and health program to address national staff shortages.
The program would mean a 3.6 percent increase in wages for health care workers over five years, in addition to the standard annual wage increases guaranteed in employment contracts.
According to the trade unions, the healthcare sector is currently in crisis, and raising wages would help solve Finland’s serious shortage of care.
They demand that the government commit to funding their program, which they believe will help attract and retain health care workers in the long run.
The program would be separate from collective agreements governing pay and working conditions in the social and health care sectors.
The organizations note that representatives of the labor force and employers are discussing the details of the collective agreements independently, while the pay rise program should come on top of these agreements and be funded by the state.
An additional salary increase would increase the basic salary of a hospital nurse by approximately EUR 490 and that of a community nurse by approximately EUR 430 over five years.
Tehy and SuPer estimate that the program would cost EUR 306-353 million per year. The amount includes all labor costs incurred by employers.
"There are no other options here. This [programme] would be around € 300 million and current health care spending 20 billion a year. In this case, it is a completely realistic amount and, in short, a realistic goal," Make a chair Millaikka Rytkönen said at a virtual event on Wednesday.
Collective bargaining is nearing completion
Negotiations on wages and working conditions in the social and health sector are reportedly in the final stages, as the collective agreement expires at the end of February.
Finland’s largest industry-specific agreement covers about 180,000 employees.
Tehy and SuPer have demanded a higher-than-average pay rise for healthcare workers from the current staff shortage, which they believe will only worsen in the future due to high turnover and retirement.
However, the employers’ organization KT has said that it considers the wage increase to be unreasonable because the municipalities would not have the necessary funds. In Finland, public funding for health care, including employees’ salaries, comes from tax revenue.
According to the RK, an increase in nurses’ monthly salaries by an average of 3.9 per cent this year would cost municipalities around EUR 332 million a year and would require a significant increase in municipal taxes.
If employees were given a salary increase of € 300 at a time (an increase of 11.7%), the annual cost would rise to almost € 1 billion.
Workers’ organizations in other industries have agreed on wage increases for employees in collective bargaining. In January, the Confederation of Finnish Industry’s Board approved a 2 per cent wage increase for the Finnish technology industry.
Source: The Nordic Page