Wednesday April 17, 2024

Unions further extend ongoing strikes to Apr 7

Published : 28 Mar 2024, 03:16

Updated : 28 Mar 2024, 13:34

  DF Report
Photo: The Public and Welfare Sectors Trade Union JHL.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and its affiliated unions on Wednesday decided to extend their ongoing strikes for at least one more week.

The trade unions have been observing the strikes since March 11 protesting against the labour market reforms and cuts in working condition undertaken by the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party-NCP) led four-party alliance government.

The SAK board said that the strikes would continue without interruption until April 7 because the government has not presented any realistic alternatives to the reforms threatening employee rights.

“We have sought a fair and moderate approach from the Government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, but the Government has turned a deaf ear to employee organisations and is still seeking to implement several industrial policy goals with negative consequences for employees. Many of these goals will have no impact on employment or on the balance of public finances,” said SAK President Jarkko Eloranta.

Eloranta stressed that the unions remain willing to call off the strikes at any time if the Government shows some appreciation for the concerns of employees.

A total of some 7,000 employees organised in the Industrial Union, the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union AKT, Service Union United PAM, the Finnish Construction Trade Union, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL and the Electrical Workers' Union are now on strike.

“The Government has been uncaring and deaf to the concerns of ordinary people, with another round of brutal social welfare cuts now due to take effect on 1 April. These and other cuts will plunge an additional 100,000 adults and 17,000 children into poverty,” Eloranta said.

Eloranta finds that the callous approach of the Orpo-Purra Government remains a concern of employees and of the organisations that represent their interests. The social welfare cuts are already forcing many people on low incomes to move out of their homes. Eloranta finds that many families are now awaiting the upcoming Government spending limits debate with considerable trepidation.

“The Finnish people oppose the policies of the Orpo-Purra Government. Many people are already wondering whether the spending limits debate will visit even greater hardship on ordinary workers and the most vulnerable in our society,” he added.

Besides income cuts, the government is undermining the rights of employees through an unprecedented assault on the culture of social consensus in Finland.

“Curtailing the right to strike reduces the ability of employees to seek better working conditions. Expanding local collective bargaining is a major deregulation of the world of work that will bring poverty wages and unacceptable terms and conditions to some jobs. Seven thousand employees are now striking for the sake of justice in society as a whole,” the SAK president said.

According to JHL President Håkan Ekström, it was necessary to continue striking.

On Wednesday 20 March, SAK President Jarkko Eloranta met with Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (National Coalition Party). However, the Government did not offer alternatives to its reforms that will crumble working life, nor has it arranged new meetings since then, said JHL in a press release on Wednesday.

The political strike targets the working life and social security weakenings planned by the Government and government has already made cuts to housing allowance and unemployment security.

Its list of working life weakening includes limiting the right to strike and undermining the general applicability of collective agreements, said the JHL, adding that the reforms solely benefit employers.

Earlier on Tuesday, the state-run petroleum company Neste said that the ongoing strikes may disrupt fuel supply in the country.

The SAK and its affiliated unions on March 20 decided to extend their ongoing strikes to until end of this month after a negotiation meeting with the government was ended without any fruitful result.

Freight transport and production in the major industries remained standstill from March 11 as the SAK started tougher strike across the country protesting against the labour market reforms and cuts in working condition.

Earlier on March 5, the SAK announced another spell of tougher strike protesting against the government moves.

Different trade unions were observing strikes protesting against the labour market reforms and cuts in working condition undertaken by the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party-NCP) led four-party alliance government.

Three opposition parties in the parliament on February 16 tabled a no-confidence motion against the four-party alliance government over the ongoing labour market unrest in the country.

Earlier on March 15, the largest trade union in Norway Fagforbundet and the Swedish Union of Municipal Workers Kommunal expressed solidarity with the ongoing strikes in Finland enforced by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and its affiliated trade unions in Finland.