Five unions are to stage a one day strike on Wednesday 3 October.
The one day strike, which is in effect a political strike, has been called in order to send a clear message to the Government: that their plans to make individual dismissal easier in companies employing less than 20 people are not acceptable.
“We would not have gone so far, but the stubbornness of the PM Juha Sipilä right-wing Government has left us with no choice”, says Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union. PM Sipilä Government has more or less scrapped the tradition of trilateral preparations on labour issues.
Jarkko Eloranta, President of the SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions says that the Government has not sought any kind of compromise with the trade union movement.
“I would not call a phone call lasting a couple of minutes a serious attempt at trilateral negotiation”, he said to the press.
The SAK Board held a meeting on Monday 1 October. After the meeting Eloranta said that SAK is anxious to resolve the dispute with the Government, but has not even been called to the table to negotiate measures that would genuinely improve employment.
Jorma Malinen, President of the Trade Union Pro is also asking for negotiations with the Government in order to avoid a further escalation in industrial action.
“We want to find a solution to the situation by making an agreement. Hopefully the Government also believes in the power of cooperation”, Malinen says.
Some 33,500 employees on strike
Work will stop for one day in hundreds of workplaces around the country. The Industrial Union strike covers some 150 workplaces and 22,000 employees. Trade Union Pro has announced a strike of some 5,000 employees in 106 locations, and the Service Union United PAM of around 1,000 people in almost 100 workplaces in the hospitality and facility services sector.
About 1,000 members of the Finnish Electrical Workers’ Union will go on strike at a 150 larger firms in industry. Their members will also join the strike at those 15 companies where the Finnish Food Workers’ Union SEL has declared a one day strike for the 3 October covering 4,500 employees.
Altogether some 33,500 employees will lay down their tools. The strike is a legal union measure to protect employees from being dismissed.
The strikes are designed not to cause any danger to human life and well-being. For example the Industrial Union has declared that those involved in: “Work to safeguard human lives and health, work to prevent serious threats to the environment, work at the companies’ occupational health centres, as well as emergency work” are to remain outside the strike.
The Unions will compensate their members with ‘strike pay’ for this one day stoppage. The amount varies, but the Industrial Union, for example, will pay 100 Euro in strike pay for a lost working day. 16 Euro of that is tax-free, for the rest the Union members pay tax.
New overtime bans
Some unions have already declared overtime and shift swap bans. New unions to join are the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL that began an overtime ban in various sectors on Monday 1 October. The Service Union United PAM begins an overtime ban in 27 collective agreement sectors on Wednesday 3 October.
OAJ, the Trade Union of Education announced an overtime and shift swap ban in private day care from Monday 8 October. Talentia Union of Professional Social Workers will also begin an overtime and shift swap ban in several sectors on Monday 8 October.
The Minister of Employment, Jari Lindström will meet the press before the strikes commence. It is expected that he might announce some minor changes in the planned legislation. This could include changes in the size of the companies covered by the legislation from less than 20 employees to less than 10 employees.
From the trade union movement point of view, however, this would not change that basic issue. A section of employees would still be discriminated against simply because they work in smaller companies.