Vivantes Klinikum Neukölln, Kormoranweg, Rudower Straße, Buckow, Neukölln, Berlin, Deutschland *** Vivantes Clinic Neukölln, Kormoranweg, Rudower Straße, Buckow, Neukölln, Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s state-owned Vivantes clinics do not come to rest – the spectacular nursing strike is still casting a shadow even after a year and the shortage of staff and dilapidated building sections worry the official inspectors. A dispute is currently brewing between employee representatives and HR management because a well-known strike leader received a warning in August.

Silvia Habekost, who has been a nurse for almost 35 years and has worked at the Friedrichshain hospital for 20 years, sat on the Vivantes Supervisory Board as an employee representative until spring 2022. She is one of the best-known heads of the hospital movement that arose around the Verdi strike in the Vivantes clinics and the Charité 2021. The anesthetic nurse has been warned because she is said to have made publicly “untrue” statements about the collective agreement that was struck at the time.

According to information from the Tagesspiegel, a letter from the human resources department states that Habekost spoke to the alternative “taz” about the collective agreement between Vivantes and Verdi – and in doing so violated the usual requirement for consideration, damaging the reputation of the clinic chain, i.e. accepting it . Habekost denied the allegations. Verdi announced on Thursday that Habekost told the “taz”: “Vivantes exploits every gap in the contract.” Every day employees have to fight for things that, according to the tariffs, they have already fought for. The union lawyers believe that being warned for this is unjustified.

A spokeswoman for the Vivantes clinics said that one was not allowed to comment on individual personnel issues. As reported, the relief collective agreement for intensive care units, for example, stipulates that a registered nurse must take care of a maximum of 1.8 patients per shift. Otherwise there is time off and salary compensation. On average there are 2.5 patients so far. Like most hospital operators, Vivantes is urgently looking for staff, but there are hardly any on the labor market.

Like most hospital operators, Vivantes is urgently looking for staff, but there are hardly any on the labor market. The Neuköllner Linke spoke on Tuesday that the shortage of staff in the local Vivantes clinic – one of the largest hospitals in Germany – was leading to serious hygiene deficiencies. Bed rooms and operating rooms were not cleaned sufficiently. A Vivantes spokeswoman said that the cleaning staff was scarce due to “Covid-19 diseases, the holiday season and the generally tense labor market situation”. The plans are adjusted: “Administrative areas and stairways or unoccupied areas are currently not cleaned as often as usual.”

The situation in the Neukölln clinic was also discussed in the Neukölln district assembly on Wednesday evening. Health Councilor Mirjam Blumenthal (SPD) reported that the district inspectors found so many deficiencies in the dermatology department in June that this was immediately sufficient for a complaint. It’s not just about the lack of cleaning, but also structural issues that lead to safety and hygiene deficiencies. City councilor Blumenthal announced that the Vivantes hospital would be checked again, if only to check how the discovered deficiencies would be dealt with. The Vivantes leadership is asked to investigate the allegations: “We are in close contact with the health authorities.”

Vivantes operates emergency rooms in each of its eight large clinics, which are among the most frequented in the capital region. Almost 80,000 cases per year are treated in Neukölln’s emergency room, which was designed for 25,000 patients in the 1980s. Vivantes is currently modernizing the Neukölln clinic. Like other facilities, rising construction costs are putting hospitals under pressure.

There is also a dispute about wages in the Vivantes subsidiaries for cleaning. Verdi accuses the group management of not paying the full wages agreed for the cleaning staff in 2021. The Vivantes board disagrees, certain surcharges are no longer included in the contract signed by the union.

On Wednesday, Verdi announced that shortly before an agreement was reached, talks about the classification of the employees of the subsidiaries had collapsed. This would affect around 1,000 of the 18,000 Vivantes employees. The Vivantes leadership, on the other hand, announced through the employers’ association that they had made “an offer that went well beyond the collective agreement”.