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Air traffic controllers' lockout set for ski holidays in eastern, northern Finland

Air traffic controllers' and employers' groups have been locked in a dispute over salaries and other matters since 2017.

Lennonjohtotorni.
Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Air traffic controllers have announced their intention to embark on a one-week workers' lockout from 9.00am 4 March until 9.00am on 11 March.

Last week the union representing air traffic controllers, SLJY, rejected a second draft settlement negotiated in talks led by the state mediator. Palta, the organisation representing employers in the sector was in favour of accepting the proposal, which would have increased air traffic controllers’ salaries by 3.2 percent.

Both sides have been locked in a dispute over salaries and other terms of work since the last collective agreement concluded in 2017.

"We are confused about what the SLJY really wants. None of the general solutions outlined by the employers or by the state mediator have been good enough for the SLJY. In all sectors, the general policy of a 3.2-percent [rise] has also included text modifications about the cost implications in the collective agreement and this should also be in the air traffic controllers’ agreement. We hope that extending the lockout will speed up a solution. A speedy solution will be in everyone’s best interests," Palta chair Tuomas Aarto said in a statement.

Supervisors to man towers

The workers’ union had previously announced another lockout lasting from 23 February to 25 February. The industrial action will affect Finland’s eight largest airports. Palta said that during the worker lockout, supervisory staff will man air navigation systems and that no significant disruptions should occur.

The employers’ organisation has previously warned that a protracted dispute could begin to affect passenger flights. Schools in eastern and northern Finland are expected to break for the annual ski holiday during the week of the planned lockout.

Other work stoppages have been organised during non-peak airport hours, for example at night and early afternoon. Airports operator Finavia has said that the busiest hours run from 6.00 to 9.00am and from 3.00 to 6.00pm.

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