The nursing staff in Berlin's state-owned hospitals are escalating their strike once again - before the Verdi negotiators want to talk publicly about a possible solution to the wage dispute on Wednesday. On Tuesday, according to the union, a total of 1,200 beds in Charité and Vivantes clinics had been closed because of the walkout.
On each campus of the university hospital and in all eight Vivantes hospitals, therefore, again a total of hundreds of appointments were postponed. The two hospital groups together have almost 9000 beds.
Verdi also called for a demonstration from the bed building at the Charité campus in Mitte to the Red City Hall planned, Senate leader Michael Müller (SPD) is head of the supervisory board of the university hospital. He had advised both sides on Monday in the science committee to compromise and recommended arbitration.
Verdi rejects the latter, because during an arbitration usually the so-called peace obligation applies - thus strike as industrial action means is omitted. On Friday, the union had rejected the last collective bargaining offer made by the Vivantes management board.
On Thursday, the nursing staff organized in Verdi had gone on indefinite strike. Politically significant is above all the "relief collective agreement" demanded by Verdi. This is about an enforceable staffing ratio for more nursing staff, which would require ten to 15 percent more staff at the hospital beds.
For Charité and Vivantes, this would mean hiring at least 1,000 additional nursing staff, given the usual patient numbers. The employees of the Vivantes subsidiaries for cleaning, transport and kitchen are also demanding for themselves the collective agreement of the public service, which applies in the Vivantes main hospitals.
The strike management repeatedly assured that emergencies and patients who are already in the clinics for inpatient treatment will be taken care of. The Vivantes board and senior doctors had doubted this - they said that emergency care was at least at risk.
Meanwhile, Berlin's state government has agreed on a hospital plan before the election. Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) announced Tuesday that the number of beds in the planned hospitals - i.e. the clinics recognized as necessary for the state's supply - would be increased by almost 1400 to 23500 beds. This is in response to population growth on the one hand, and demographic aging on the other.
Nursing staff in Brandenburg will also be striking soon - but for higher wages. Verdi is calling for a strike in the psychiatric wards of the Asklepios clinics: Starting on Tuesday of next week, wards in Brandenburg an der Havel, Teupitz and Lübben could possibly be closed. According to the union's plan, almost 400 beds would have to be closed for four days.A registered nurse in the affected hospitals receives less pay than the standard rates in Berlin. While an intensive care nurse in Berlin's Vivantes clinics receives around 4,300 euros a month in full-time gross wages, in Brandenburg the figure is often 600 euros less.
Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia