Estonian nurses' strike a success

  • 2000-10-19
  • Sergei Stepanov
NARVA, Estonia - Nearly 350 nurses took part in a one-hour warning strike in Narva city on Oct. 16. The strikers, demanding a wage increase from 11 to 25 kroons ($0.60-1.40) per hour, numbered over 8,000 in 58 Estonian medical institutions.

The strike was supported by the Narva Trade Union Association, doctors and some city municipality officials.

Narva nurses have joined the whole Estonian strike of nurses demanding a salary increase. The average hourly wage is 11 Estonian kroons, and they ask for 25 kroons per hour. No surgery was undertaken during the strike, but there was one nurse on call in each hospital department in case of emergencies.

"Nurses in Estonia do very serious medical procedures in comparison with our Western colleagues, but our salaries could not be compared," said strikers. Half of them are unmarried mothers and, they say, it is really hard for them to support their families.

"Directors of Estonian hospitals must pay the agreed-upon wages to the nurses and ensure smooth work of the hospitals, because they are paid for it," Social Affairs Minister Eiki Nestor told BNS on Oct. 14.

Nestor sees the solution as opening talks between the Estonian hospitals' union and the nurses' union.

Managing director of the Estonian Hospitals' Union Siim Markus told BNS that it is possible to provide medical services at current prices only at the expense of medical workers' pay and medical institutions' development.

The strike's organizers seem to be satisfied with the strike. According to Inna Rahendi, president of the nurses' union, the strike can be considered a success.