On Wednesday, November 20th, around 200,000 hospital workers will participate in the first ever nationwide hospital strike in the Netherlands. NOS reports the unions FNV, FBZ, NU’91 and CNV organized the strike where employees in 83 hospitals across the Netherlands will cease all non-emergency tasks.
The strike will call attention to the union’s demands for a 5% structural salary increase, higher wages for employees called in to work at the last minute, and measures to relieve the heavy workload. According to the trade unions, the improvements should reward nurses and keep the profession attractive as there are widespread healthcare worker shortages in the labor market and a heavy outflow from healthcare work.
NOS reports that last June, collective bargaining with the Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ) broke down which resulted in protest campaigns involving thousands of employees in 25 hospitals; FNV estimates these demonstrations have already impacted around 20,000 patients.
In September, NVZ informally proposed a wage increase for all employees of 4% in the next two years with an additional increase in the irregularity allowance to create an additional 2.5% salary increase for nurses. The unions rejected the proposal because they found the improvements “marginal.” In August, Ad Melkert, chairman of the NVZ, asked the cabinet for an additional €200 million toward wage increases for the hospital collective labor agreement but Minister Bruins of Medical Care said this request will not be granted.
Melkert’s request noted that in the next few years, hospital expenditure may grow a maximum of 1.7% while the demand for care grows by 2.5% each year, putting hospitals under increased financial pressure. Healthcare costs have risen to around €80 billion a year and Melkert says there is no money for a substantial salary increase.
The unions reportedly expect at least half of all regular Dutch hospitals to participate in the strike. Academic hospitals will be excluded from the demonstration as their employees fall under a different collective labor agreement.