Paramedics stay on strike

Stressful working conditions lead paramedics to walk off the job

Despite instructions to go back to work, some 150 unsatisfied Flack ambulatory responders are continuing their strike in the greater Copenhagen area. It is unclear when they will return to the job.

The striking paramedics were ordered back to work Tuesday at 7 pm after a meeting between employers and the medics union which is organised under the Confederation of Danish Employees (DA).

'We are working on re-establishing our emergency response units with help from outside service vendors so we can be on the road as much as possible on Wednesday,' Finn Serup Jensen, Falck's information officer, told public service broadcaster DR late Tuesday.

The strike is in defiance of collective agreements entered into meaning the Falck paramedics will receive a fine of DKK 35 for each hour the strike continues. The illegal strike will also be brought before the labour court.

Falck management were surprised that the paramedics did not choose to return to the job following Tuesday's agreement. Allan Søgaard Larsen, Falck group manager, said the meeting had otherwise gone well.

'There was a good sentiment and there was a broad belief that they would return to work, but that doesn't seem to be the case,' said Larsen.

The walkout staged by the 150 paramedics at Falck's seven stations in the greater Copenhagen area is a result of general discontentment over a lack of open negotiations with Falck's regional management. Heavy pressure to work which creates long waiting times on non-acute tasks is also contended.

'We have been under pressure for a long time,' said Per Petersen, Falck employee and head of the Copenhagen Chauffer's union, to daily newspaper JP København. 'Among other things, we would like to have time to eat lunch.'

There has been increased pressure on the paramedics this summer as the warmer weather has caused a 22 percent higher demand for emergency response.

Falck also currently has 26 vacancies for ambulatory staff. The company has seen a drop in employees as more paramedics have chosen to join the publicly funded emergency response team at Copenhagen's fire brigade.

The strike and lack of staff meant Falck was unable to complete a series of services including patient transportation on Tuesday. Patients able to sit, were transported in taxis instead.

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