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Labour leader warns of strikes over economic policy

The head of Finland's largest trade union confederation says wage earners feel that they will soon have no choice but to start protests or strikes.

Headshot of Jarkko Eloranta, wearing a white dress shirt, dark jacket and brown-framed eyeglasses.
SAK chair Jarkko Eloranta. Image: Lauri Karo / Yle
Yle News

Jarkko Eloranta, the chair of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, told Yle that a political strike or mass demonstration against the government and its labour market policies is not out of the question.

"We want to wake the government up to the fact that now is the final moment to start talking with us," Eloranta stated in an Yle TV interview on Tuesday evening.

Eloranta described the government's programme and its effects on wage earners as "very serious".

He said it contains measures that will significantly weaken social security for wage earners and the conditions of employment.

In addition to the SAK, several other union groups have said in recent weeks that they are increasing their preparedness, or starting organisational measures, for protests and strikes. Among those is the OAJ which represents education, training and research sector professionals.

Among the points of contention is a plan to use tripartite negotiations – talks including unions, employer groups and the government – to implement labour market policies. The SAK has rejected the practice, with the organisation's Eloranta indicating that it would not produce results favourable to wage earners.

"The only option is to present our opinion in other ways," he told Yle.

The other ways usually employed by unions to protest government policy are strikes, work stoppages, walk-outs and mass demonstrations.

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