– Don’t fool around with our pay, is the clear message from Aud Traaholt, health worker and local union representative for the Trade Union at Ullern Health Center on the west edge of Oslo.
When the Oslo City Council will once again put nursing homes out to tender, it is very likely that most employees will receive a worse salary development than they would have received with the municipality as employer. This is shown by a study by a group of social economists published in the journal Magma.
Health professional Aud Traaholt worked for many years in Ullern Health Center while it was still run by a commercial company.
The salary of the employees at the health center lagged far behind their colleagues who had the municipality as their employer.
Oslo municipality then took over operations in 2019. The staff got a real pay rise and got a much better pension agreement. Traaholt’s annual salary increased by NOK 70,000.
Read the response from the Conservative health council Saliba Andreas Korkunc here
Got 16 percent less
The study from Econa shows that the wage differences were greatest in Oslo.
Health professionals in commercial nursing homes in Oslo had, on average, 16 per cent lower wages than their colleagues with exactly the same job in the municipal nursing homes.
The nurses in the commercial nursing homes earned 12 per cent less than their colleagues in the municipal ones.
– Employees’ wages out to tender
Trade union representative Aud believes putting nursing homes out to competition basically means one thing: The employees’ salary and pension are put out to tender.
– If the commercial ones come back, salary and pension are the only things they can save on. They cannot save on medication, emphasizes Aud Traaholt.
A nursing home is a major public responsibility, points out the Trade Union representative.
– Then we are not kidding about the salary and pension development for those of us who will do the work, says Aud Traaholt and adds:
– We don’t have a very high salary in the first place.
She is not interested in getting a commercial company as an employer again.
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Lowest salary in the commercial
The Econa study from 2023 shows that there were large wage differences between commercial and municipal nursing homes. The study covered the years 2015–2020.
The salary was the lowest in the commercial nursing homes. Salaries were also lower in the nursing homes run by non-profit organizations than in the municipal ones.
About the wage differences in Oslo, the study says this:
- The salary was the lowest in the commercial nursing homes.
- Health professionals in commercial nursing homes had on average 16 per cent lower wages than in the nursing homes run by Oslo municipality.
- Nurses in commercial nursing homes had 12 per cent lower wages than in the municipal nursing homes in Oslo.
- The salary differences between the municipal and non-profit nursing homes in Oslo were also significant.
- Health professionals in nursing homes run by non-profits had 8 percent lower wages than in the nursing homes run by Oslo municipality.
- The nurses in the non-profit nursing homes had 10 per cent lower wages than in the municipal nursing homes in Oslo.
About the wage differences in the rest of the country:
- In the rest of the country, there were smaller wage differences.
- The salary of the healthcare workers was 8 per cent lower in the commercial nursing homes than in the municipal ones.
- The number of nurses in the commercial nursing homes was 4 per cent lower than in the municipal ones.
- Both health professionals and nurses in non-profit nursing homes had 2 per cent lower wages than in the municipal nursing homes.
Researchers Henning Øien at the Institute of Public Health, Elisabeth Fevang at the Frisch Center and Maja W. Grøtting at the Institute of Public Health conducted the study.
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2024: No commercial nursing homes in Oslo
Under the previous Conservative-led city council in Oslo, many nursing homes were put out to tender and run by commercial companies.
When the red-green city council gained power in the 2015 election, this turned around. As soon as the contracts with the commercial ones expired, the municipality took over the operation. Several nursing homes are still run by non-profit organisations.
When the red-greens lost the election last year, no nursing home in Oslo was run by commercial companies anymore.
On a national basis, only 1.5 percent of all the country’s nursing home places are in nursing homes run by commercial companies, according to figures from Statistics Norway.
7 percent of nursing home places are in nursing homes run by non-profit organisations.
Grandma on tender again
In November 2023, the bourgeois parties took the Oslo city council offices again. In December, it was announced that the city council will put four nursing homes in Oslo out to competition. They thus open the door for commercial companies to once again be allowed to run nursing homes in the capital.
The Nursing Home Agency in Oslo set up a group of people from employers and union representatives, who have been tasked with creating criteria for selecting six nursing homes for tendering. They have a deadline for their work in mid-February.
The Oslo city council will then select four nursing homes.
– No thanks
Siri Follerås leads the largest union that organizes employees in the nursing homes and health centers, Fagforbundet Pleie og Omsorg in Oslo.
“We, the Trade Union, do not want nursing homes to go out to tender,” Follerås replies in an e-mail to FriFagbevegelse.
The reason? The trade union believes that tenders create great uncertainty about pay, employment and pension conditions.
People received NOK 140,000 more in wages
The trade union leader recalls what happened to the salaries of employees who had had a commercial company as their employer for years, when they again got Oslo municipality as their boss.
Their salary had completely fallen behind compared to the salary development of their colleagues with exactly the same job in the municipality.
Oppsal nursing home was the last to be taken over by the municipality, in 2023.
All the approximately 100 employees received a pay rise of between NOK 40,000 and NOK 140,000 in annual salary.
“The right-wing talks so nicely about freedom of choice, but there is no freedom of choice for the employee who is affected by the competition. They have not chosen any other employer than Oslo municipality,” emphasizes Siri Follerås in the Trade Union.
– Must look after the employees
Health councilor Saliba Andreas Korkunc (Right) says that it is important for the city council that this is done in a proper way that takes care of the employees.
– The task must be carried out in close cooperation with union representatives, Korkunc told NTB.
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