Hospital staff are to stage a national strike on November 20 after talks to agree an improved pay deal broke down.
Unions say around 90% of staff at 83 hospitals and 30 rehabilitation centres are prepared to join what will be the first nationwide stoppage by healthcare workers.
Operating theatres, laboratories and nursing wards will close for 24 hours to non-emergency patients. Some 25 hospitals have already worked ‘Sunday rota’ days during the week to campaign for better pay and conditions.
Unions are calling for a 5% basic pay rise and bonuses for staff who are called in to work at short notice, as well as measures to reduce workloads. Around 20,000 workers are covered by the collective pay deal that four unions – FNV, FBZ, NU’91 and CNV – are trying to renegotiate.
Teaching hospitals, which are covered by a different agreement, are not taking part in the strike. Talks with the Dutch Hospitals’ Association (NVZ), which represents employers, broke down in June.
In August the NVZ’s chairman, former Labour party (PvdA) leader Ad Melkert, wrote to the cabinet asking for an extra €200 million to underwrite a new pay deal, but the request was turned down by medical care minister Bruno Bruins.
The NVZ improved its offer at the end of September, with a proposed 4% pay rise for all staff in 2020 and 2021 and a bigger bonus for working irregular hours, but unions rejected it as a marginal increase.