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Two-day municipal worker strike stalls services in Tampere and Kuopio

Municipal workers in Tampere and Kuopio are in the midst of a two-day strike that has shut down schools and other services in the two cities.

Strike guards stand outside a school in Tampere as schools and other municipal services close during a two-day strike started on Tuesday. Image: Miikka Varila / Yle
Yle News

The Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals (Juko), the bargaining unit representing municipal employees, has called for a two-day strike in Kuopio and Tampere. The strike began at midnight on Tuesday and is scheduled to end on Thursday.

Schools and libraries closed, other services at reduced capacity

In Tampere and Kuopio, libraries and schools from the elementary to vocational level are closed. Additionally, doctor's appointments at public health care centres in Tampere have been postponed or cancelled. Daycare centres are operating at reduced capacities in both cities. Elderly services still function as the strike excludes activities that could endanger the life, health, safety, or property of citizens.

Juko organised strikes the previous week in the cities of Oulu, Turku, Rovaniemi, and Jyväskylä in what was described as the largest labour action in the municipal sector in decades.

If no agreement is reached on a new collective agreement affecting roughly 420,000 employees in the municipal sector by 18 April, the next strike locations will be Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen from 19 April to 25 April. It is likely that schools in the capital region will close if nearly 31,000 workers go on a week-long strike.

The strike includes employees covered by the Municipal General Collective Agreement (KVTES), the Municipal Collective Agreement for Teachers (OVTES), the Municipal Collective Agreement for Physicians (LS), the Municipal Technical Collective Agreement (TS) and the Social and Health Care Collective Agreement (SOTE).

A mediation commission chaired by Elina Pylkkänen, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, was formed last Friday to mediate labour disputes in the municipal sector.

The mediation board met the negotiating parties for the first time on Sunday. According to Pylkkänen, there are no further meetings scheduled, but they may be arranged prior to Easter.

"We are now gathering information and taking stock of the situation. The economic outlook is very uncertain, so we also need to ask experts for help," Pylkkönen told STT on Monday.

Olli Luukkainen, Juko's board chair, emphasised that there will be no agreement in the labour dispute without a multi-year pay programme.

"This year we need to get a decent general increase and multi-year wage programme to correct the wage gap in the municipal sector compared to the private sector," Luukkainen said in a Juko press release.

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