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Can occupational safety and health representatives be on strike?

JHL determines the strike limits. The union decides the work tasks that the strike applies to, regardless of who performs them. As a rule, the occupational safety and health representatives that the strike limits apply to participate in the strike.

When determining the strike limits, one should however consider that the occupational safety and health representative represents all the employees of their workplace, also non-unionised ones. A JHL member working as the occupational safety and health representative of their workplace also represents the co-workers who are not JHL members. During a strike, some of the employees represented by the representative are on strike, some are not. Because of the nature of occupational safety and health cooperation, it would be important to ensure if possible, also during a strike, that the employees are represented in the cooperation.

Most occupational safety and health representatives manage their position of responsibility alongside their own job commitments in such a way that some or their working hours fall under a so-called exemption period. During the exemption period, the occupational safety and health representative will manage their cooperation duties related to occupational safety and health. During the rest of their working hours, the occupational safety and health representative carries out tasks in accordance with their employment contract.

If the strike applies to the occupational safety and health representative’s own work tasks, the representative, too, is on strike. The deputy representative will then carry out necessary cooperation duties related to occupational safety and health during the strike. If all deputy representatives belong to the trade union that the strike applies to, and the strike also applies to their work tasks, they will all be on strike.

In cases like this, workplaces should agree on the measures for managing employee representation in occupational safety and health cooperation in necessary situations that arise during the strike (such as participation in occupational safety and health inspection).

Full-time occupational safety and health representatives, i.e. those who have been fully exempted from work, only engage in occupational safety and health cooperation. A full-time occupational safety and health representative will manage their position of responsibility during an industrial action.