Nurses’ Strike Averted

Vala Hafstað

A nurses’ strike, set to begin at 8 am in Iceland today, was averted last night, shortly before midnight, after the state mediator put forth a mediating proposal in the dispute between the Icelandic Nurses’ Association and the state.

The strike would have affected about 2,600 nurses. It would have severely reduced health care services in Iceland, and there were worries it would jeopardize testing efforts for COVID-19 at Keflavík International Airport and other ports of entry.

State Mediator Aðalsteinn Leifsson tells Morgunblaðið that an agreement has already been reached on all aspects of the labor dispute, with the exception of basic pay.

“This suggestion is unusual,” he states, “at it is put forth not least because of the essential services nurses provide, and because this remained the only obvious bone of contention.”

Members of the Icelandic Nurses’ Association will vote electronically on the mediating proposal Wednesday through Saturday.

If approved, the state mediator will appoint a three-person court of arbitration to rule on the wage aspect of the contract. Icelandic nurses have been without a contract since March of last year.

According to Sverrir Jónsson, who leads the state’s negotiating committee, the aspects of the contract already agreed upon include “major changes regarding working hours and important factors regarding nurses’ work environment.”

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