Labor Unions Ramp Up Strikes for Third Consecutive Week

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Finland ranks as the happiest country in the world for the seventh year in a row. At the same time, trade unions and the government have reached a stalemate and companies have no choice but to leave their workers without pay.

Labor Unions Extend Strikes to Three Weeks; A Deeper Look at the ‘Political War’ in the World’s Happiest Country

Some 7,000 workers in various unions are on strike after the madness that began a week and a half ago on March 11. As of this writing, the strikes are expected to end on April 1.

Meanwhile, many workers are not receiving their paychecks and people are worried that gas stations will run out of fuel.

Even the goddamn opticians are joining the strikes! But what does it mean?

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Anyway, old sport, who’s to blame?

Some point the finger at the trade unions, namely, the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL), the Finnish Industrial Union, the Finnish Electrical Workers´ Union, the Finnish Construction Trade Union and last but not least, the Service Union United (PAM).

Others accuse the government. Arto Satonen (NCP), the minister of employment, is the poster boy for the blame. In fact, Parliament voted for his confidence at the beginning of March.

It turned out that 92 voted for Satonen’s confidence and 56 thought that the Minister had misinformed Parliament on several occasions about the relevant legislation in Finland’s peer countries, such as Sweden. (The others voted empty or were not present.) Minister Satonen, according to the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)—who presented the proposal for a vote for a resolution of no confidence—has repeatedly said in public that the duration of political strikes in Sweden is limited to a few hours.

Poppycock.

“In Sweden, there is no case law from which a specific time limit for political strikes can be deduced,” said Per Ewaldsson, the chief legal advisor at the Medlingsinstitut. Ewaldsson’s role is similar to that of a national conciliator in Finland, who helps negotiators settle labor disputes.

Labor Unions Extend Strikes to Three Weeks; A Deeper Look at the ‘Political War’ in the World’s Happiest Country

What Satonen, apparently, was referring to when he was talking about the “two hours” can be found in Swedish legal literature, but according to Ewaldsson it is not “legally binding, because the “Labour Court has not ruled so” previously.

So much for Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s (NCP) comments after a debate on an interpellation around mid-February about the “confrontation” the government was causing with the unions by “refusing all initiatives to solve the situation,” as Antti Lindtman, the chairman of the SDP, put it. The SDP tabled the interpellation.

During the debate, Minister Satonen pulled out an article in which, according to Satonen’s interpretation, the Swedish legal advisor said that “the right to political strikes in Sweden is limited to a few hours.”

“Maybe he [Ewaldsson] knows something about this,” Satonen told Parliament.

Prime Minister Orpo spoke after the debate:

“Minister Satonen now said that he had been right all along. And I think it is absolutely essential that you can now stop the debate on this matter, that you calm down. We will carefully prepare these laws, so there is no need to worry about it,” Orpo said.

At the time of writing, the strikes are still going on, and the last time I checked, during the debate in the plenary session on Thursday, during the so-called Question Hour, the opposition criticized the government to the very last breath.

Read also:  GALLERY: Strikes Against the Government’s Policies Clear the City Center of People in Helsinki

“Planes are refueling in neighboring countries and businesses are closing their doors. This strike chaos has gone too far. No concessions will be made one way or the other. It doesn’t make any sense. For a long time, this has been nothing more than a dispute over prestige,” said Olga Oinas-Panuma of the Center Party.

Labor Unions Extend Strikes to Three Weeks; A Deeper Look at the ‘Political War’ in the World’s Happiest Country

Prime Minister Orpo repeated the same message he’s been repeating since Parliament welcomed a new year of meetings and debates in February. Orpo said the opposition’s speeches sound to him as if they hope the government will give up and abandon the core of the key reforms, which include cuts in social benefits and a proposal for a new law that would limit the duration of political strikes to 24 hours.

Orpo stressed several times that this “core” will not be retreated from.

So, companies such as the forestry giant UPM have announced that they will suspend wage payments at their paper mills, and another big fish in the paper industry, Stora Enso, is swimming in their wake by shutting down factories and suspending wage payments to workers whose work has been forced to stop.

Finland has reached a difficult impasse as Petteri Orpo’s government pushes through its labor market reforms and the trade union movement tries to force the government to the negotiating table with strikes that in some circles are considered “violent.”

Labor Unions Extend Strikes to Three Weeks; A Deeper Look at the ‘Political War’ in the World’s Happiest Country

Antti Lindtman, the leader of the main opposition party, the SDP, said that Finland could at worst be facing a “multi-year Armageddon.” The consequences, according to Lindtman, are difficult to assess.

His worst fear regarding the labor disputes is that “the confrontation will push the Finnish labor market into an almost permanent instability, where the seeds of conflict in future rounds of collective bargaining will be planted so deeply that they will have long-lasting effects.”

At the time of writing, the unions have decided to continue their strikes, originally planned for two weeks, for (at least) one more week.

The stevedores of AKT and some other port-related workers’ groups are joining the strikes from March 25 to April 1.

On Wednesday, Jarkko Eloranta, the president of SAK, met with work minister Satonen.

It became clear to Eloranta, that the government “was not ready to make compromises concerning the labor market situation, which is why it is necessary to continue the strike to defend employees and unemployed people.” Eloranta was speaking in a statement sent to the Finnish media on Thursday.

“The government and business are now looking for a clear victory over the Finnish worker,” Riku Aalto, the chairman of the Industrial Union, said in a statement. “As a result, we have entered a permanently troubled labor market. We continue to call for genuine negotiations on labor market changes. That is the only way to defuse the tension and restore industrial peace,” he added.

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Source: finlandtoday.fi

14 Comments
  1. Emily_1985 says

    It’s a shame to see the impact of the prolonged strikes on the workers and the community. Collective bargaining should result in fair agreements without causing such disruption. Hopefully, the parties can reach a resolution soon.

  2. Amy Thompson says

    These strikes are causing havoc, and it seems like both the trade unions and the government are locked in a power struggle. Workers are suffering, and it’s high time for a resolution to be reached before the situation worsens. The impact on everyday life is significant, and it’s frustrating to see this kind of turmoil continuing. Let’s hope for a quick and fair solution for the sake of everyone involved.

  3. EmmaSmith83 says

    Labor unions are doing what they must to protect the rights of workers. It’s unfortunate that companies are leaving their employees without pay, causing worry and discomfort. I hope a resolution is reached soon for the sake of everyone affected.

  4. Katja87 says

    As a Finnish citizen, I am deeply concerned about the impact of these strikes on our economy. It seems that both the unions and the government are failing to find a solution, leaving workers and businesses in a precarious situation. The lack of pay for workers and the potential fuel shortages are alarming. It’s time for both parties to set their differences aside and prioritize the well-being of the people.

  5. EvelynJohnson21 says

    Hey there! Who’s responsible for this chaos surrounding the strikes in Finland? Are the trade unions really to blame or is it the government’s fault?

    1. MaxwellSmith87 says

      Hey EvelynJohnson21! The situation with the strikes in Finland is quite complex. Both the trade unions and the government share responsibility for the current chaos. While the unions are fighting for workers’ rights, the government’s decisions and actions have also contributed to this deadlock. It’s a tough situation with no easy answers.

  6. EmmaSmith82 says

    As a Finnish citizen, I believe that the government should take responsibility for the current situation. The trade unions are fighting for the rights of the workers, and it’s the government’s duty to find a solution that benefits everyone. We can’t ignore the struggles of the workers who are directly affected by the strikes.

  7. Emily_Davis says

    Who’s to blame for this ongoing labor union strike – the trade unions or the government?

    1. Maxwell_Jones says

      Hey Emily_Davis, it’s not just about blaming the trade unions or the government for the strikes. The situation is complex, and both sides need to find common ground for the workers’ sake. Let’s hope for a resolution soon!

  8. EmilySmith says

    It’s unfortunate that the situation has escalated to this point. The workers deserve fair treatment, but prolonging the strikes only harms the economy further. Both the trade unions and the government need to find a resolution soon to prevent more disruptions.

  9. EmilyJohnson says

    As a proud member of a labor union myself, I believe the strikes are necessary to hold both the government and companies accountable for the rights and well-being of workers. Solidarity with the workers in Finland fighting for fair treatment and wages!

  10. AliceSmith says

    Why are the gas stations running out of fuel? Is it related to the strikes?

  11. JuliaSmith88 says

    I believe that the strike is a justified response from the workers who are being left without pay. The government and trade unions need to find a resolution quickly to avoid further harm to the workers and the general public. It’s concerning to see multiple sectors affected by these strikes, and it’s crucial for all parties to come together for a fair solution. Hopefully, the situation will be resolved soon for the benefit of everyone involved.

  12. EmmaSmith says

    As a member of a trade union myself, I believe that it is crucial for workers to stand up for their rights, even if it means going on strike. If companies and the government fail to provide fair conditions, strikes become necessary. I support the Finnish workers in their fight for better pay and working conditions.

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