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HELSINKI, 19th September (EFE) — Eduskunta (Finnish Parliament) this Monday approved the so-called Patient Safety Act, a legal reform pushed by the centre-left government to limit strikes by health professionals The right to guarantee basic medical care.

The new law will allow regional health authorities to limit strikes called in social and health services deemed essential, such as intensive care and home care, and force those deemed essential to work.

The law was dealt with urgently in response to multiple strikes at home care and intensive care units in several cities across the country, including Helsinki, as of Tuesday.

Negotiations to update the collective agreement between the industry’s two main unions, Tehy and SuPer, and the employers’ organisation that represent municipalities responsible for managing public health have stalled for months.

Tehy and SuPer have threatened to mobilize massively in public health if their demands go unheeded as unions demand a series of wage and workforce improvements that employers find unaffordable.

Specifically, the union is asking for a 3.6% annual wage increase for the next five years, which should add, among other improvements, the annual increases contained in the current agreement to maintain workers’ purchasing power. .

According to the super unions, their demands will raise the average base salary of hospital nurses by 492 euros to 3,308 euros per month and by 427 euros to 2,633 euros for home care workers.

Last week, a court in Helsinki prevented intensive care nurses from going on strike in the hospital districts of Turku, Oulu and Kantar-Jaime, fining each union of 1 million euros for each hospital that struck. .

The two workers’ groups called off the strike and threatened to resign their nurses en masse if the law is approved, which could lead to the collapse of the public health system in a department severely affected by a shortage of qualified personnel.

Unions argue that the new law assumes a cut to their basic right to strike and does not address the underlying problems: poor wage conditions and overworked health professionals.

The Finnish government avoided intervening in the conflict, claiming that industrial disputes were not its responsibility, although it justified legal reforms as necessary to protect citizens’ lives and health from possible strikes.

(c) EFE Institutions