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Three day strike by Finland's largest infrastructure firm may cause traffic problems

Public and welfare sector trade union JHL said Destia's plans to change collective bargaining agreements would cause workers to lose up to 1,000 euros in annual wages.

File photo of JHL pickets in 2020. Image: Jaana Polamo / Yle
Yle News

Employees at the infrastructure company Destia are to begin a three day strike on Tuesday, according to the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL).

A statement issued by the union on Monday said that Destia's plans to cut worker wages and downgrade collective bargaining agreements would result in costing each of around 1,000 of the company's workers at least hundreds, or even up to 1,000 euros per year.

At the moment, Destia is following collective bargaining agreements with service sector union Palta and JHL.

But the union said that at the beginning of next year, Destia plans to join collective agreements with infrastructure sector representatives, including Finnish Construction Industries RT and the Finnish Construction Trade Union.

In its annual report (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (PDF in English) issued in December of last year, the company characterised itself as "Finland's biggest infrastructure services company," saying it pulled in more than 560 billion euros in revenue and made 16 million euros in profit during 2020.

Strike could prompt traffic problems

JHL said that the strike action, which begins at 12:00am on Tuesday and concludes at 12:59pm on Thursday, would interrupt road maintenance work, which may cause traffic congestion on affected roadways.

Effects of the strike may also be felt by train passengers, as Destia's rail workers are also scheduled to take part in the labour action. State railway VR told Yle that the effects on train traffic were being investigated and any schedule changes would be announced as soon as possible.

The union's chair, Päivi Niemi-Laine, said that under the new collective agreements, the firm's employees would lose up to 10 percent of their current salaries.

"Destia's management is running over the terms of employment agreements with a steamroller," Niemi-Laine said in the statement, which went on to call on the company to adhere to the current collective agreement arrangement.

The union claimed that Destia's management would not reply to its requests for contact, and that the "only way" to defend the workers' terms of employment was to go on strike.

"Profit maximisation through wage cuts is unfair and collective agreement shopping is contrary to [Destia's] own company values. On its website, Destia said that it respects binding collective agreements. In reality, the company only respects its huge income," Niemi-Laine said.

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