Estonian unions negotiate higher pay in the healthcare sector

Estonian trade unions won substantial pay rises in a new collective agreement in the healthcare sector, concluded at the end of April 2017. Wages have been increased this year by 5% for doctors and 10% for nurses. The collective agreement also promises an additional pay rise of 8% for doctors and 13% for nurses in 2018.

“During the collective bargaining negotiations, the strength of the healthcare workers has been astonishing,” said Estonian Trade Union Confederation Chairman Peep Peterson. “They have always secured pay rises more quickly than other sectors. Around 70% of all healthcare workers belong to a trade union. That gives them enough power to successfully negotiate, and take action if necessary.

“Collective agreements in the sector have been helping to reduce the gender pay gap as well. The proportion of women in Estonian healthcare is high, and they earn at least the average wage, if not more.

“The Estonian Trade Union Confederation has just started minimum wage negotiations for the years 2018 and 2019. Our position is that minimum wages must rise more quickly than the average wage. We need to reduce inequalities and ensure that our wages keep getting closer to pay rates in Western Europe,” he added.

“Based on the data of Statistics Estonia, the average wage during the first quarter of this year was only 5.7% higher than the same period last year. At this rate, the average wage in Estonia will reach the same level as the average wage in Western Europe in 20 years.”