Doctors reach agreement in line with EU working time Directive

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A collective agreement for Finnish doctors was signed on 28 February 1998, taking into account the application of the 1993 EU Directive on working time to their work. As a result, pay will increase by FIM 1,400 per month, and weekly working time by 1.25 hours.

As previously reported (FI9712144N), the Finnish Medical Association (Suomen Lääkäriliitto, SLL) rejected the national incomes policy agreement for 1998-2000 (FI9801145F). Negotiations were held in early 1998 with the employers' body, the Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kunnallinen Työmarkkinalaitos, KT), but these were grinding to a halt and the doctors issued a strike warning on 2 February 1998. The strike was prevented by a conciliation proposal from the state conciliator, Juhani Salonius, which KT and SLL accepted on 28 February 1998.

The reason behind the dispute was that the doctors' emergency duties would have to be cut due to the application of the limits on working hours contained in the EU Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (93/104/EC), with a resulting decrease in pay. Under the new agreement - valid until mid-January 2000 - this loss is being compensated for by raising the doctors' basic salary. At the same time, weekly working time will increase from 37 hours to 38.25 hours. While pay generally will increase by 3.4%, hospital doctors will receive an increase of 7.3%-11.7%. According to the employers, the average increase will be FIM 1,400 per month. Average pay for hospital doctors is FIM 23,700 month and for health centre doctors FIM 25,400. The biggest increase - FIM 2,000 per month - goes to the hospital doctors, while health centre doctors receive an additional FIM 850 per month, dentists FIM 800, and veterinarians FIM 900.

The employers reckon that the yearly increase in total wages under the deal is about FIM 170 million and that this will affect the costs of special healthcare. The employers' chief negotiator, Eila Uotila, stated that the basic solution to the dispute was that money from emergency duty remuneration was being transferred to basic salaries. According to the chair of SLL, Kati Myllymäki, the agreement will arouse criticism among the organisation's members (both quoted in Helsingin Sanomat on 1 March 1998). Young doctors who have performed a large amount of emergency duty are especially reluctant to accept the agreement as such.

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