Industrial Union to continue striking against attacks on working people

Today, 20 March 2024, the Industrial Union gives notice of a political strike lasting a total of one week. Work stoppages will take place between 25 and 31 March. The strikes are a continuation of the current action, and the notice does not include new strike locations. The strikes are a demand for Petteri Orpo‘s government to come to the table and negotiate with employee unions about its attacks on workers. Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union, says that the government is trying to alter Finland’s labour market system to render it impossible for employees to defend their common interests.

“The government and enterprises are seeking the crushing defeat of Finnish workers. As a result, we are now in a state of permanent unrest in the labour market. We continue to propose genuine negotiations on labour market changes. This is the only way to unwind the tensions and restore industrial peace.”

#We also have to remember what this is essentially all about. Poverty in Finland will increase by 100,000 people when earnings-related benefits are cut by a billion euros. 17,000 children will fall into poverty when the combined effects of the cuts hit. It is about a complete lack of fairness,” says Riku Aalto.

In addition to merit-related cuts and the weakening of working conditions, the Industrial Union’s concerns are related to the whole local bargaining package, which has already been compared to the failed taxi reform. With the Government’s decisions, weak local agreements will become an integral part of the Finnish labor market. The change takes place without supervision and the trade union movement’s opportunities to address grievances.

“If the local agreement reform is implemented in its current form, it will undermine the protection of minimum working conditions. Weak local agreements can be used to cut wages and extend working hours. We cannot accept this.”

“The government is propagating a model that will eventually turn against itself as unions protect minimum working conditions by cancelling local agreements at the negotiating table. The government knows this, but it does not seem to care. We have been explaining the basic problems with this for months, but Prime Minister Orpo and Labour Minister Satonen have taken no notice at all,” Aalto continues.

According to media information, the government aims to bring forward the debate in committee of its restrictions on the right to strike. According to publicly available information, one option under consideration is for the restrictions on the right to strike to take effect as soon as 1 May 2024, rather than the original schedule proposed by the government.

“It is crystal clear what they are trying to do by rushing this legislation through. The government wants to force through legislation to weaken working conditions, impose cuts, and increase the number of local agreements – the “taxi reform of the labour market” – as quickly as possible and with no resistance. By doing so, the government will permanently impair the rights and bargaining position of Finnish workers.

“Choosing to enact the legislation on Labour Day – International Workers’ Day – is also a symbolic act. It is the government’s way of saying that the rights and livelihoods of workers mean nothing to it,” Aalto concludes.

The strikes announced by the Industrial Union will take the form of a one-week work stoppage between 25 and 31 March 2024. The strikes announced today are a continuation of the previously announced two-week work stoppage. The strike notice does not include changes to the strike locations but the boundaries of the strike have been checked so that air travel isn’t interrupted. The strikes do not extend to emergency work or to work that is necessary for the protection of life and health. The Industrial Union is willing to cooperate in order to ensure critical actions of the authorities and security of supply during the walkouts.  The Union will take all potential contacts of the authorities seriously.

More detailed information about the establishments affected by the strikes is available here.