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Strike notices issued in escalating pay dispute

Industrial employers will be the first in this round of pay talks to strike a pay bargain. Other Finnish employers have refused to negotiate pay rises until they know the deal agreed by industrial employers.

 Teollisuusliiton toimipiste Hakaniemenrannassa.
The Industrial Union's headquarters at Hakaniemi, Helsinki. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

The industrial workers' union, along with the YTN and Pro unions representing white collar staff, have issued strike notices for walkouts in the technology and chemicals sectors.

They aim to break the logjam in pay talks, with unions demanding pay rises that would compensate for rising inflation, and employers far from offering a deal they would be happy with.

Employers in other sectors have refused even to discuss pay rises until there's a resolution in the industrial sector.

Finland's labour laws mean most workers are covered by a collective agreement of some kind, whether or not they are a union member, making this dispute especially significant for wage-earners throughout the economy.

The blue-collar union confederation SAK has said that it wants to see deals like the ones agreed in Germany, where employees will get raises of more than five percent in 2023.

Strikes possible in February

The Industrial Union issued a strike notice affecting 50 workplaces between 1-3 February. The notice covers locations where some 7,200 employees are based.

Pay talks in the sector ended on Monday without success, and the talks are now heading for the national labour conciliator's office.

Jarkko Ruohoniemi, who heads up the employers' organisation, said the development was expected.

Industrial Union chair, Riku Aalto, said that he still hoped a resolution would be possible without strikes.

"We have now issued strike notices over the questions in our sectors," said Aalto. "We hope that this will be enough and we won't need to give more strike notices."

The YTN strike notice covers some 5,000 employees at ten companies in the technology sector. Trade Union Pro's warning is for workers in the technology, design and consulting industries.

In addition, the Industrial Union starts an overtime ban from Wednesday.

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