Salaries The salaries of nurses and kindergarten teachers have lagged behind the general earnings trend – Researcher: “Staff shortages should also be reflected in salaries”

After the 2007 labor struggle, the salary development of nurses temporarily exceeded the general earnings trend.

Nurses and the earnings of kindergarten teachers have lagged behind the general wage trend over the past decade. The change is seen when looking at the evolution of the average earnings of these occupations relative to all wage earners.

The matter is burningly topical, as the round of collective bargaining in the municipal sector has drifted to a bad impasse. Caregiver organizations Tehy and Super canceled their strike last week, but are now threatening to take even more drastic action: they said they would start preparation for mass redundancies.

Organizations are pushing for significant pay increases for caregivers. They are calling for a wage program that would raise wages by 3.6 percent each year on top of normal increases for five years.

After the May Day, a strike in the municipal sector threatens to expand schools, kindergartens, libraries and museums, among others. If implemented, the strike would affect 81,000 municipal employees.

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Read more: The labor market round goes through overtime, which requires state help to dismantle

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HS assembled Statistics Finland provided data on the development of earnings of nurses and kindergarten teachers and compared it with the earnings development of all employees.

The difference in wage levels is particularly clear when looking at average wages in euros. Between 2005 and 2020, the average monthly earnings of all employees increased by more than one thousand euros from EUR 2,454 to EUR 3,620.

The average salary for nurses increased from EUR 2,357 to EUR 3,211 and for kindergarten teachers from EUR 2,032 to EUR 2,836 per month.

Over the fifteen-year period under review, differences in average wages have widened.

Earnings from regular working hours have been used in the comparison, which include, in addition to the basic salary, various bonuses and performance-based earnings.

Looking at the development of earnings as indices, it can be seen that the wage development of nurses temporarily exceeded the general earnings development after the 2007 labor struggle. As early as 2012, however, their wage developments plunged below general wage developments, and the gap with general wage developments has only widened since then.

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The development of salaries for kindergarten teachers has started to lag behind the development of the general salary level already in 2010.

Financial Leading Researcher at the Laboratory of the Research Institute Merja Kauhanen sees several reasons why the salaries of nurses and kindergarten teachers are lagging behind the general wage trend.

One explanatory factor that makes direct comparisons difficult is the change in occupational structure. The share of specialists and experts in wage earners has increased.

“The fact that the level of education of the population has risen and the professional structure has changed towards skilled workers has affected the change in wages in all sectors.”

According to Kauhanen, the development of wages in the care and nursing sector can also be affected by the fact that most nurses and kindergarten teachers work in the public sector. He talks about the market power of employers.

“There’s one big employer out there, and there’s not that much competition from the private sector. An employer may keep the wage level lower compared to a situation where there would be a lot of competition. There may also be differences between regions. ”

Bucket recalls how it used to be said that the motives for applying to the public sector for care are vocation and the common interest.

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“Even if it’s a vocation, a good salary and vocation aren’t really exclusive.”

In some respects, however, things were better in recent years. In the centralized contract system, Kauhanen could be involved in so-called equal pay or low pay items, which gave higher increases to low-pay sectors to close the pay gap.

There is a chronic shortage of labor in the care and nursing professions, Kauhanen reminds.

“According to economic theory, if there is a shortage [työntekijöistä] so it should also show up in pay. In other words, if it is difficult to get staff, you can see that resources should be increased so that the situation can be handled, ”he says.

“It’s quite clear to me because there is no change in sight. Demand for these professions is not declining as our population ages and the need for professionals increases. ”

Kauhanen points out that, in addition to pay, many other things should be taken care of in the workplace. These include working conditions and management problems, which are important for the attractiveness of these professions.

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