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Minister postpones Helsinki region municipal strike

The industrial action will close schools and daycare centres if it goes ahead.

The strike is now scheduled to begin on May 3rd if no agreement is reached. Image: Risto Degerman

A municipal services, school and daycare strike in the Helsinki region has been postponed for two weeks by the Minister for Employment, Tuula Haatainen (SDP).

The strike was due to start on 19 April but Finland's National Labour Conciliator asked Haatainen to postpone it.

As a result, the week-long strike is now scheduled to begin on 3 May if no agreement is reached before that date.

The strike, organised by public sector trade unions Juko and JAU, aims to pressure employers to settle contract disputes mainly focused around employee salary programmes.

The planned action would involve around 31,000 municipal employees across Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. During the strike, primary schools as well as most daycare centres in Helsinki and Espoo would remain closed.

Around 46,000 students in Helsinki and over 30,000 students in Espoo are currently in primary education.

In addition, members of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL), the Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees (Jyty) and Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals (Juko) have announced plans to also begin a week-long strike on 3 May in the capital region as well as in Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Oulu and Rovaniemi.

The strike warning covers over 81,000 municipal workers and could result in large-scale school- and nursery closures.

National Conciliator: Situation is "serious"

President of the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), Olli Luukkainen,said he believed keeping schools and primary schools open was the main reason behind postponing the strike. Luukkainen said the postponement demonstrated what a key role teachers play in the functioning of society.

"I hope this will be taken into account in the collective bargaining process," Luukkainen added.

In a Thursday press release, National Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala said the situation was serious, and that she was glad the conciliatory board received more time to work on the issue.

Legally, the National Conciliator can push back a strike by a maximum of two weeks.

The National Conciliator or conciliatory board may submit a strike postponement proposal to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, in cases where strike action threatens to affect critical societal infrastructure or significantly undermines the public interest.