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Bus strikes end as pay deal reached

Bus operators say services are returning to normal, but there may be some disruption until Monday.

Ihmisiä HSL:n bussin numero 400 edessä bussipysäkillä.
Bus drivers started to return to work on Saturday after a deal between employers and workers in the industry. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finland's bus strike ended on Friday night after the Finnish Transport Union (AKT) reached a deal with employers on a new collective agreement in the sector.

Bus services return to normal

Helsinki's regional public transit authority HSL said that its bus services will gradually return to normal starting on Saturday.

However, HSL noted that some of its services would still be suspended over the weekend and full service would recommence on Monday.

Tampere's public transport authority Nysse conveyed a similar timeline, with some bus lines reinstated on Saturday and full service beginning on Monday.

Bus companies and services across the country announced similar timetables.

The bus strike began on Wednesday last week and halted service across the country. It was originally planned to last for 10 days, but negotiations ended the strike early.

Union happy with deal

According to Ismo Kokko, AKT's chair, the agreement is fair.

"Compromises are sometimes necessary, and you have to stand by your agreement," Kokko said after a long day of negotiations.

The new contract entered into force on Saturday and will expire at the end of January 2025.

According to Kokko, the wage increases are similar to those in other agreements drawn up by the AKT.

"There will be a total of four wage raise dates, with total increases of around six percent," Kokko confirmed.

In addition to wage increases, AKT was aiming to get concessions on working time and shift patterns for their members.

"We will also have a model for local agreements, where shop stewards can agree on shorter work shifts. This is a step forward," Kokko told Yle.

Compromises on both sides

According to the head of the transport employers' association, Mari Vasarainen, the negotiations were difficult.

"The solution was not easy for us, because the financial situation of bus and coach companies is very challenging after years of Covid," Vasarainen said.

The employers' association stressed that the agreement is a compromise for both the employers and the workers.

"I am particularly pleased that together with the AKT we have found tools to develop the sector and the well-being of bus and coach drivers, thus increasing the sector's attraction and retention power," Vasarainen said.

Earlier this week, the transport union AKT agreed to a new deal for dock workers, while unions and employers made progress in coming to a deal in the rail industry after strikes were threatened.

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