Doctors reject incomes policy agreement

The Finnish Medical Association has rejected the central incomes policy agreement signed on 12 December 1997 at confederation level. The disagreement concerns changes in pay and working hours as a consequence of the EU working time Directive.

The Finnish Medical Association (Suomen Lääkäriliitto, SLL) is one of the few trade unions that have decided not to approve the central incomes policy agreement, signed on 12 December 1997 by trade union and employers' confederations (FI9801145F). The employers of the doctors concerned, the Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kunnallinen työmarkkinalaitos, KT), made a proposal for an agreement but the doctors decided to reject it. According to SLL, the proposal did not resolve the dispute concerning doctors' working hours. The income of medical doctors will decrease significantly in 1998 if they become fully subject the new Working Hours Act ( which has been in force from the beginning of 1997). Until now, no drastic changes have taken place due to local agreements. If these local agreements cannot be prolonged, the limitations of the Act will take full effect. The EU Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (93/104/EC) forbids long sessions of emergency duty and the doctors want the resulting loss of income to be compensated by increasing wages for normal working time. Previously, the pay of hospital doctors consisted to a large extent of remuneration for emergency duties.

According to SLL, the employers' proposal did not provide any solution to the problems. In fact, there were some deteriorations in pay compared with the present collective agreement on civil servants' salaries. Due to the Working Hours Act, total incomes would decrease considerably more than the work would diminish. SLL is trying to get the pay scheme reformed, with more weight put on normal working hours instead of emergency duties. A third of the total of 6,000 hospital doctors are not on duty at all at present, and SLL has threatened to go on strike if the dispute cannot be solved at the negotiating table. The talks are to be continued from the beginning of 1998.

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