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Unions announce new industrial action to protest government policies

A plan to cancel work-based residence permits after three months of unemployment is one of the new rules angering unions.

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The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has announced a three-week campaign in response to the government's economic policy, which unions say erodes worker protections. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle
Yle News

Labour unions on Saturday announced fresh strike actions for next week.

The Industrial Union, the Trade Union Pro and the Electrical Workers' Union said they will organise work stoppages, marches and demonstrations at several workplaces in Satakunta and Southwest Finland on Wednesday. The actions will encompass workers at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, among many others.

These industrial measures are part of a three-week campaign announced by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) in response to the government's economic policy, which unions say erodes worker protections.

The government aims to weaken the terms of employee contracts, tighten the payment of earnings-related unemployment benefits and restrict the right to strike.

Worker protections

Unions are unhappy with new rules that would allow employers to offer fixed-term contracts without a stated reason. Other contentious aspects relate to the regulation of employment, such as the expansion of local bargaining over collective efforts. In the future, it will also be easier for employers to fire workers. The first day of sick leave will become unpaid unless otherwise agreed in the collective agreement or employment contract.

Earnings-related unemployment benefits will meanwhile be staggered, with the benefit decreasing to 80 percent of the original level after two months of unemployment and to 75 percent after eight months. Child supplements for jobseekers will also be removed. Previously, unemployed individuals could receive child supplements ranging from 150 to 285 euros per month, depending on the number of children under 18.

Work-based residence permits will also change. In the future, this type of residence permit will expire if a person does not find a new job within three months of termination. Employers are, under the threat of penalties, to inform immigration authority Migri of any employment changes impacting permit-holders.

The right to strike will be limited to protests lasting no longer than 24 hours. In the future, lawful sympathy strikes would be restricted to those affecting the parties involved in the labour dispute. In addition, workers participating in an illegal strike could face a 200-euro penalty, according to the government's plans.

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