Saturday 01 April 2023

Hospital strike to go ahead on Thursday with no end in sight to dispute


A one-day strike by hospital workers is set to go ahead on March 16 with no sign of a deal between unions and employers on the horizon.

Scheduled operations have been cancelled at 64 facilities across the country, including the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital in Amsterdam, which is taking part in a strike for the first time.

The hospitals will operate a Sunday rota from 8am so that emergency care can continue.

Unions have rejected a 13% pay offer spread out over two years, arguing that the initial increase of 5% is not enough to compensate for inflation, which stood at 10% last year.

They are calling for an immediate 10% rise, plus a €100 flat-rate increase and higher travel expenses to cover the extra cost of fuel.

‘The 10% increase for this year is fine as far as it goes, but spreading it out over the year is bot enough,’ FNV union official Elise Merlijn said. ‘We need an improvement in income for our personnel now.’

Healthcare managers say the demands are unaffordable, as hospitals’ costs have risen in response to the war in Ukraine, which has made fuel and equipment more expensive.

They say raising wages immediately could jeopardise the integral care agreement signed with health minister Ernst Kuipers, which included commitments to invest in training for personnel and improvements to working conditions.

Marjolein Tasche, executive chairman of Franciscus Gasthuis and Vlietland hospital in Rotterdam, said managers faced a ‘diabolical dilemma’. ‘We can only spend our money once, and we want to invest in new equipment and training for our people to prepare them for digital healthcare and innovations.’

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