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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 September 7 - 13  > Iroren holds international symposium focusing on nurses working night shifts
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2016 September 7 - 13 [LABOR]

Iroren holds international symposium focusing on nurses working night shifts

September 7 & 8, 2016
The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) held an international symposium in Tokyo on September 6 to discuss the issue of night shift work in nursing. An ILO official and union workers from four countries talked about nurses’ excessive shift work hours and ways to improve their work conditions.

Iroren, a member of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), organized the international symposium for the first time in 15 years.

In a speech on behalf of the organizer, Iroren Chair Nakano Chikako said that every time a natural disaster such as a typhoon or earthquake occurs, worker shortages at medical and nursing-care facilities become apparent. Noting that the shortage of healthcare workers is mainly attributed to harsh working conditions, she stressed the need to regulate shift work.

Christiane Wiskow, a specialist in the ILO health services sector, pointed out that staff shortages increase the burden on medical workers, which leads to medical accidents. She emphasized that creating decent working conditions is essential for providing patients with quality care.

A member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation introduced their campaign calling on the government to improve the ratio of nurses to inpatients. He said that as a result of the improvement, the turnover rate for nurses has declined.

A member of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in France pointed to the fact that nurses on night duty are liable to develop depression or breast cancer due to a considerable increase in stress and chronic fatigue. She said that the CGT demands reduction in working hours and urges state authorities to continue checking on nurses’ health even after their retirement.

A worker from the Korea Health and Medical Workers’ Union cited an example of a nurse taking care of 80 inpatients alone. The union member said that death from overwork often takes place and 60% of medical workers in South Korea are considering quitting their jobs. She also referred to a case where nurses have to obtain the consent of their boss and co-workers if they want to have a baby.

An Iroren member said that nearly one third of medical institutions in Japan still maintain a double shift work system. She underlined the necessity to shorten working hours and require medical service providers to place long-enough intervals between shifts so that employees can obtain a proper amount of rest to recuperate.

Past related article:
> Nurses’ excessive workloads cause high turnover rate: JCP Kurabayashi [April 5, 2016]
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