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Nursing strike over

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Nursing strike over
17:32 CEST+02:00
Both the healthcare workers union and their employers have accepted an offer put forward by mediators on Wednesday afternoon, effectively ending Sweden's nursing strike.

A spokesperson for the Swedish Association Swedish Association of Healthcare Professionals (Vårdförbundet), Tor Enqvist, told the TT news agency that the union had accepted the offer following a vote by 201 Vårdförbundet representatives who had gathered for a special meeting at the Runö conference center in Åkersberga north of Stockholm.

Shortly thereafter, Claes Bertilson a spokesperson for the nurses' employer, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), also confirmed that his group had accepted the same offer.

“We see unbelievable possibilities with this offer,” said lead union negotiator Margareta Öhberg.

According to Öhberg, the offer contains options for improving nurses' pay and for carrying out a reassessment of the profession. She said that the offer also includes good prerequisites for the local setting of salaries.

The new contract will last for three years and can be cancelled after two.

It guarantees a 4 percent pay increase the first year, a 3 percent raise the second year, and 2 percent the third year. Measured in kronor, the increase comes to about 1000 kronor ($167) the first year, excluding any increases added locally.

The contract also stipulates a minimum monthly salary of 21,100 kronor starting March 1st, 2009.

The union vote on the offer was far from unanimous, with 150 voting in favour and 48 voting against the new contract.

The Vårdförbundet was demanding a pay increase of 15 percent over two years and a minimum monthly salary of 22,000 kronor, goals which were not met by the final offer accepted by the union.

The nursing strike broke out on April 21st after the two parties couldn't agree on a new labour agreement.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 union members have been on strike at hospitals and health clinics around the country.

Through last week, the strike had caused the cancellation of 10,000 operations, according to SALAR.

The average monthly salary of a nurse employed at the municipal level today is around 25,000 kronor. Nurses working at the county level receive an average of 23,800 kronor a month.

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