An Umeå health care workers’ union this morning protested the decision that they could take holidays earliest in September. See the exclusive video.
CENTRUM – About 20 members of the local branch of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals marched through the city center this morning, demanding four weeks of summer holidays and better pay. This comes after negotiations between the union and Västerbotten officials stalled two weeks ago, with the outcome that health care workers can choose to have their holiday to be earliest in September — and without pay to compensate. The demonstrators made their way to Umeå University Hospital with a drum and protest signs, and held a rope between them, to ensure they were two meters apart to prevent coronavirus spread. The march was captured on video by an Umeå Today reader at Renmarkstorget.
Union leaders complain that Västerbotten County — which employs health professionals at the hospital and other clinics in Umeå — has been using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to ignore requests for summer holidays. “It is blamed on coronavirus,” the Association’s Deputy Chair Katarina Nilsson Reian told Västerbottens-Kuriren, “but we have very few coronavirus patients in Västerbotten right now, and that has actually been the case the whole time.”
The human resources director for Västerbotten, Kia Ronnhed, responded by saying that the region is doing what it can to allow union members to take holidays when they want, according to SVT.
Nonetheless, union members remain unsatisfied, in part because they believe they should be paid extra for having to work through the entire summer. “The region does not want to compensate with a single krona,” Association Chair Jenny Olsson told SVT. “The message this sends — along with signals that wages will be poor — creates a very difficult feeling for our members, on the front lines of the pandemic.”
Coronavirus’ burden on local health care system continues to decrease, with the number of hospitalized patients dropping below 10 for the first time since March.
The latest statistics about COVID-19 in Västerbotten show a disease which is putting less and less of a strain on the health care system. The number of coronavirus patients in the hospital decreased by three in the last day to nine, and the total in intensive care remained at four. The last time that these numbers were nine and four, respectively, was March 27, as the pandemic was just starting to build in Umeå.
The total number of deaths in the region remained constant since yesterday, at 19. Given Västerbotten’s population of about 270 thousand people, this means that Västerbotten has a rate of 70 deaths per million residents — about the same as Austria’s, and lower than Sweden’s neighbor Denmark, while higher than Finland and Norway. Sweden’s national death rate per million is about 366, one of the world’s highest. Västerbotten, then, is faring much better than other parts of Sweden, particularly the large southern cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Only two more cases were found in Västerbotten in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 419. 158 of those are in Umeå, and 152 in Skellefteå, a considerably smaller city.
Despite the encouraging coronavirus statistics, four cases were reportedly confirmed today among Ersboda nursing home residents.
With the City of Umeå introducing mass-testing for the virus in nursing homes, four infections were found in one home in Ersboda, according to Västerbottens-Kuriren. Umeå Today could not independently confirm this report. City health officials told the paper that the patients are in isolation, and that more residents there, and probably also employees, will now be tested.
The infection had previously been found in another Umeå nursing home, Dragonen. The City started mass-testing there on Thursday last week.
The startup incubator eXpressions is offering a workshop on Wednesday about how to be creative during the pandemic, with an eye towards sustainable development afterwards.
eXpressions, the Umeå-based startup incubator, is planning to present an online workshop on Wednesday morning which explores how the coronavirus crisis can empower people to be more creative, with the goal of coming up with solutions for a sustainable future after the pandemic is over. The workshop will be led by Anna Parry, founder of Umeå design company Proto Proto.
“Creativity is the exact superpower that we need to create a more equitable and sustainable future,” she says. “I hope that the workshop will provide participants with a positive sense of opportunity, without forgetting the many creative people who have been hard-hit by the crisis.”
eXpression says that the crisis has showed the “potential for structural changes in behavior that can contribute to solutions on the climate crisis. This may involve more tele-working, changes in travel behavior, and a stronger civil society.”
Umeå’s Left and Green Parties are submitting a motion to the City allowing 16-year-olds to vote.
Umeå’s Left Party announced today that it is calling on the City to take on a “national experimental activity” allowing 16-year-olds to vote in the 2022 or 2026 municipal elections. The Left Party says that “16-year-olds’ maturity does not differ significantly from 18-year-olds'”, the current voting age in Umeå.
“We believe that Umeå, which has a young and politically conscious population, would be a suitable city for this experiment in several municipalities,” the Left Party writes. “It would mean increased political interest, and influence, for young people.”
The Left Party filed a similar motion in 2016, but it was delayed indefinitely while under political consideration.
Umeå Today is affiliated with eXpressions, but this article was written with full editorial independence from that affiliation.