Industrial Union to launch political industrial action with walkouts in Lapland and Oulu: “This is our protest and cry for help to the Government”

The Industrial Union will launch political industrial actions against the Government’s cuts and erosions of workers’ rights on Tuesday, 26 September. The measures will begin in the form of temporary one-hour walkouts in the regions of Lapland and Oulu. The measures are part of SAK’s joint Serious grounds campaign, which aims to defend workers against the Government’s unilateral plans to erode employees’ rights.

“The walkouts are a form of protest and a cry for help. Instead of addressing the national deficit as promised, the Government is trampling the rights of Finnish workers. As a result, the Industrial Union is left with no choice but to defend its members through industrial action.

“The Government is singling out employees with its cuts and erosions of rights. The Government is seeking to ram through its plans quickly so that citizens do not have the time to grasp the full implications of the changes. I appeal to the Government: it is not yet too late to change the course and sit down to negotiate in good faith,” says Riku Aalto, Chair of the Industrial Union.

“The Government is tearing down earnings-related unemployment security”

The Government’s cuts to unemployment security will hit even harder next year than the so-called activity model of the Sipilä government some years ago. The gradual decrease of earnings-related security alone will, on average, take away 350 euros a month from industrial workers whose unemployment or lay-off lasts for more than two months.

“The Government is tearing down earnings-related unemployment security in a situation where lay-offs and dismissals are becoming commonplace. This is unequivocally wrong and unacceptable. Employees need a strong safety net to lean on during times of unemployment or lay-off. This is now being taken away from us,” says Aalto.

On top of gutting unemployment security, the Government is also planning to do away with job security. According to the planned changes, the payment of wages during co-operation negotiations and lay-offs could be cut off on a very short notice. In the future, the payment of wages could be suspended in just one week of the employer announcing the need for lay-offs. Under current law, this period is 8 weeks when taking into account the time taken by negotiations at the workplace. Protections against dismissal are also being eroded by allowing employers to terminate employees without serious grounds.

“Doing away with job security shifts the employer’s risks onto employees. Many families no longer have a financial buffer on which to rely in hard times. That’s why it is important that the payment of wages by the employer continues for some time, even if the company’s finances have taken a turn for the worse. In the future, this will no longer be the case.

“Weakening the protections against dismissal will quickly result in a situation where employees no longer know what kind of behaviour can lead to termination.  What is clear that the grounds for dismissal would no longer need to be weighty or serious,” says Aalto.

The Government is skewing Finland away from the Nordic way

The Government is downplaying its planned changes by claiming that they simply follow the model of other Nordic countries. The Industrial Union disagrees with this assessment. As the union sees it, the changes would turn Finland away from the Nordic model and closer to countries with poor job security and social safety nets.

“In its labour market policy, the Government looks to the east for inspiration. The Government is following the example of countries with poor job security, weak social safety nets and little say for employees on how things are run at the workplace. This is not the path we want for Finland.

“Some of the erosions of rights are planned in the form of mandatory legislation, prohibiting any attempts by unions or employees to agree on better terms than in the law. The restrictions on the right to strike are planned to be enforced quickly in order to take away employees’ ability to defend their rights against further erosions. Shop stewards will be bypassed by law, and the universal application of collective agreements will be weakened. Does any of this sound like the Nordic way of doing things? Our answer is a firm no,” concludes Aalto.

The Industrial Union observes a 4-day notice period for its political industrial actions. The walkouts do not apply to emergency work or to work that is necessary for the protection of life and health. The walkouts on Tuesday, 26 September will last one hour. Workplaces participating in the walkouts are located in the regions of Lapland and Oulu. The following workplaces are affected:

Skoda Transtech Oy Otanmäki, Nokia Solutions and Networks Oy Oulu, BRP Finland Oy, Scanfil EMS Oy Sievi, Norrhydro Oy Rovaniemi, Pölkky Oy Kajaani, Hydnum Oy Muhos, Stora Enso Oy Veitsiluoto, Comforta Oy Sodankylä.

More information about the walkouts can be found here. The Industrial Union will announce more news about planned walkouts on Friday, 23 September.

Additional information:

Riku Aalto (Interviews)
+358 400 711 072

Merja Rinne (Inquiries about industrial actions)
Head of Regional Operations
+358 50 306 4437