FNV is preparing campaigns in academic hospitals – Loon offer below par

The Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU) presented a final offer to the unions in the stalled collective labor agreement on Sunday evening. “With this, the NFU and the academic hospitals (umcs) take their responsibility to break the deadlock of the stalled collective labor agreement negotiations,” the federation states. The FNV Zorg & Welzijn union is disappointed with the offer and says that the preparations for a strike will continue on September 28.

The final offer came after health care unions had issued an ultimatum. The unions threatened actions at academic hospitals. If their demands were not met by Monday, September 6, employees would begin working Sunday shifts on weekdays. In hospital care, this is the ultimate means of strike.

No money

Previous collective labor agreement negotiations in the UMCs came to a standstill because, according to employers, there would be no money. “We do not want and cannot wait any longer for The Hague in view of the umpteenth delay in the cabinet formation,” says NFU chairman Margriet Schneider. “That is why we are now making a final offer with improvements to the current collective labor agreement, on which we and the trade unions have already largely agreed. In addition, we offer a targeted salary increase for the group where the backlog is greatest and a limited overall salary increase for the rest of the UMC employees.”

The final offer of the NFU includes a structural wage increase of 3.5 percent as of 1 August 2022, a one-off payment of 3.5 percent over 2021 and an increase in the irregularity allowance.

First step

NU’91, the professional organization for carers and nurses, is pleased. According to NU’91, the current final offer is a ‘first step in the right direction towards greater appreciation’ for nurses and carers. “Ever since NU’91 was founded, this weekend exactly thirty years ago, a collective labor agreement for only these groups has been committed,” says Stella Salden of NU’91.

NU’91 will present the proposal with a positive recommendation to the members of the UMCs.

FNV: ‘Bid very disappointing and below par’

The FNV union says it finds the offer very disappointing and substandard. “With this final offer, which focuses only on a few professional groups, the NFU is playing employees against each other. While everyone stands shoulder to shoulder and is jointly responsible for optimal care. For the NFU, one appears to be more valuable than the other, while everyone is so desperately needed within the UMCs and should be appreciated for that. That is why we assume that colleagues show solidarity with each other and will not be guided by the poor final offer”, says director Elise Merlijn of FNV Zorg & Welzijn.

Meetings are planned in the seven UMCs for the next two weeks. Depending on the response during the meetings, the FNV will consider whether it will submit the final offer to its members. In the meantime, preparations for the strike on Tuesday 28 September continue. This would mean that employees in the academic medical centers (UMCs) would then lay down their work for a day and that all planned care would not take place. “Of course, patient safety comes first and all emergency care is guaranteed,” says Merlijn.

According to the union, in the final offer only nurses and doctor’s assistants will gain slightly in salary and the NFU will skip the entire year 2021. The FNV also says that the NFU speaks of a two-year collective labor agreement, but it actually refers to three years. “Most employees receive a 1 percent structural salary increase and a one-off payment of 750 euros gross in those three years. Before 2023, the NFU refers to The Hague for extra money for better employment conditions and we all know that fairy tales do not exist,” says Merlijn.

“The NFU has continuously indicated in the past 10 months that it has no money for better working conditions. A study by consultancy firm EY showed that the UMCs are the financially soundest of all healthcare institutions, with a solvency ratio of more than 30 percent. Why can’t a decent, structural wage increase for all the staff get rid of this? They all work under an immensely high workload and cannot do the work without each other,” said the FNV director.

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