Danish government intervenes to end nurses strike

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Nurses demonstrate during a strike to demand a higher pay, in front of the Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark June 19, 2021. Claus Bech/ Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

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COPENHAGEN, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Danish lawmakers on Friday voted through an emergency law which will effectively end a strike among more than 6,000 nurses over pay which has postponed tens of thousands operations and other treatments.

More than a tenth of Denmark's nurses went on strike in mid-June after union members voted against a pay deal that their union leadership had approved. read more

The emergency law, which was passed on Friday by a majority in parliament, effectively forces through the 5.02% wage increase over the next three years, which the nurses themselves had already rejected.

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"I am deeply disappointed that the parliament is ending the conflict, but not taking the necessary political responsibility to rectify decades of unfair wages,” the head of the nurses’ union Grete Christensen said in a statement.

Such an intervention is rare in the Nordic country, where agreements on wages and other working conditions traditionally are negotiated by unions and employers through collective bargaining.

Denmark has practically avoided a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, easing pressure on an overstretched health service.

However, the strike has so far postponed roughly 35,500 surgeries, The Danish Health Authority said on Wednesday, adding that it can take as long as two years to bring down the extraordinary backlog.

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Reporting by Stine Jacobsen Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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