Short strikes are on the increase in the public municipal services sector. Negotiations to reach collective agreements for the municipal sector have failed as of yet. The agreements cover some 425,000 local government employees.
JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors had already earlier instituted overtime and shift swap bans. At the beginning of April, it declared a two-day municipal service strike in six selected cities like Tampere and Oulu.
Should negotiations not yield a result, JHL, JUKO and Jyty unions will start on 19 April a seven-day strike in the Helsinki metropolitan area, covering Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen.
JUKO, the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals has also organised several short strikes in selected cities. Thus far, thousands of people like teachers, daycare workers, employees in cultural and sports services and social workers have been participating in strikes in the major Finnish cities.
The 25,000 nurse’s strike in six health care districts has been going on since the beginning of April. Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super – the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses are set to extend the strike in the middle of April. At that point it would involve 40,000 nurses.
The unions are expecting the state to find a solution to low pay in the municipal sector by providing extra money for that purpose. However, in the General Government Fiscal Plan for 2023–2026, decided on 5 April, the Government did not do that. Due to the Russian attack on Ukraine, billions will now go to the military.
Päivi Niemi-Laine, JHL President, said that JHL is very disappointed with the Government decision.
“Before the end of the next decade, the social and health services alone will need 200,000 new employees. At the existing pay level, these will just simply not be found.” In order to get salaries up, a several year long salary programme must be established.
If such a salary programme is not implemented, JHL members are prepared for further industrial action, JHL says.
“If necessary, we can even close down the whole country”, Niemi-Laine says.