Tehy rejects contract offer approved by other nurses´ union
The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) on Saturday rejected a pay offer by Finnish local authorities.
"Our goal that the backwardness of the pay of trained care personnel would be fixed, will not be resolved with this proposal", noted Tehy chairwoman Jaana Laitinen-Pesola.
"The council was unanimous. There were no votes", said Rauno Vesivalo, chairman of the Tehy General Council.
The overall raise of about 12 per cent in two and a half years, was seen as adequate, but Tehy felt that the extra EUR 50 equality bonus was insufficient to rectify the imbalance between the low pay of the predominantly female nursing profession and better-paid mainly male professions.
During the two and a half years that the proposed contract would be in force, the basic pay of nurses was to rise by EUR 239 a month.
The Tehy General Council listened to voices from the field. Delegates travelling to Helsinki had been advised not to come back if they capitulated.
"We need to arrange such a big threat that the municipal employers and political decision makers will wise up."
"We have clearly felt that now or never. If it is not possible to pay in this economic situation, then it will not be possible in the future either", said delegate Kim Berg from Vaasa.
The threat of a strike is very real, as the municipalities are not interested in any further negotiations. "The General Council will meet on October 9th. Then we will decide on possibly leaving a strike warning", Laitinen-Pesola said.
A strike could begin in late October at the earliest. If it does, it would apply to about 70,000 nurses in the municipal sector.
Tehy plans to make its own goals public soon. Laitinen-Pesola puts her hope in Parliament and the budget debate.
"It will certainly be possible to make choices without overstepping the framework, for securing the future of health care."
"Finland has more money than ever. When there is a recession, it is not possible to fix the pay of care personnel, and when times are good, it cannot be fixed. Is there some kind of a social contract in this country, according to which highly trained caring personnel are condemned to low pay?"
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) said in an interview with the Finnish News Agency STT that he was disappointed with the decision of the nurses. He said that no more state money is available for the purpose.
Laitinen-Pesola denies that Tehy would have come under pressure from the state to accept the present offer.
However, she says that there have been some unsavoury comments on the arguments put forward by Tehy from sources close to the Ministry of Finance.
However, Laitinen-Pesola says that she feels no need to burn her membership card in the National Coalition Party of Finance Minister Jyri Katainen.
The decision by Tehy is causing a split with the other nursing union, the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer), which accepted the offered contract last week.
SuPer Chairman Juhani Palomäki said that he will sign the contract on Monday.
Tehy's Jaana Laitinen-Pesola, points out that the consensus rules of TNJ, the common negotiating organisation of SuPer and Tehy will not allow one union to sign a contract that is rejected by the other.
Palomäki actually knows the TNJ rules quite well, because he was involved when they were written. This time, however, he plans to deviate from them.
"In this situation, society cannot be so congealed that the rules would prevent a large organisation from signing an agreement that the organisation has approved", Palomäki said.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Union of Practical Nurses accepts municipal pay deal (28.9.2007)