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Aviation strike set to begin on Monday, Finnair warns of possible cancellations

A strike call by the Trade Union Pro has sparked an unusual war of words between it, the Aviation Union and an employers' group.

Finnair planes at a maintenance hall in October 2020. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The Trade Union Pro has called an aviation strike beginning at 6 am on Monday. Pro says that the walkout involves technical employees and members of the Finnish Aviation Union (IAU) – but the latter union denies any involvement in the industrial action.

The walkout is scheduled to end on 31 January. The companies affected are Finnair, Finnair Technical Services, GA Telesis Engine Services, ground support equipment services firm TCR and Hub Logistics.

Through the industrial action, Pro aims to involve service sector employers in the collective bargaining for air services between IAU and the Service Sector Employers group Palta.

Both the IAU and Palta have criticised Pro's behaviour.

In a statement on Sunday, the IAU accused Pro of providing misleading information.

It points to a Pro statement saying that unorganised employees must comply with Pro’s decisions, countering that "the employment or status of unorganised employees is not restricted in any way by the decisions of the Pro strike committee".

"It is clear that IAU members will also come to work during the strike," the Aviation Union said.

Palta: Pro’s moves "unscrupulous"

Efforts have been made to resolve the aviation labour dispute in talks mediated by National Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala, with whom the parties will again meet on Monday.

However those talks will not cover the terms and conditions of employment for technical workers, which are to be negotiated at the collective bargaining level between the IAU and Palta before the current agreement expires in spring 2023.

On Friday Palta described Pro’s actions as "unscrupulous".

"This is a dispute between trade unions, in which Pro is stubbornly seeking a place at a negotiating table to which it is not a party," Palta's Negotiations Director Pasi Vuorio said in a statement.

"In an industrial action, every employee, organised or unorganised, always has the right to decide for themselves whether or not to take part in a strike," he added.

Finnair: Strike may cause cancellations

Last week flag carrier Finnair warned that the planned strike could cause disruptions and flight cancellations.

The national airline noted that it is not a party to the dispute between the two labour unions either, but added that "any strike action would still have an impact upon Finnair aircraft maintenance". Finnair said it had made "special arrangements to secure the continued maintenance of its aircraft during the potential strike".