Finnish nurses threaten mass resignations over pay

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HELSINKI, Oct 15 (Reuters) Thousands of Finnish nurses are threatening to resign next month as part of a pay dispute, a trade union said today.

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals, Tehy, said 12,800 of its members would quit on November 19 if demands for substantially higher wages were not met. Another 2,000 are prepared to resign if the union requests it.

''It is extremely sad that trained health care personnel have to defend a reasonable position with such a forceful measure,'' Tehy chairman Jaana Laitinen-Pesola said in a statement.

''The mass resignations would paralyse our health care system.'' Many younger nurses were also considering working abroad or switching careers because of low pay, Laitinen-Pesola added.

Tehy, which has 124,000 members, wants a 24 per cent pay increase over 28 months, which would be about 15 per cent above average wage growth.

Employers offered Tehy members more than 12 per cent over the same period, but the union rejected it last month. SuPer, a union representing nurses with less training, accepted the deal.

A nurse's starting salary in the public sector is 2,487 dollars a month. Last year the average pay for Tehy members was 2,386 euros a month. As of 2005 the average salary for full-time workers in Finland was 2,555 euros.

Negotiations are continuing later today.

Reuters SKB GC1642

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