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Aviation strike looms prior to ski holidays – Talks to begin

The national conciliator has called on unions to discuss the threat of an aviation employee strike. Talks are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Turvatarkastus-alue Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
An aviation strike would make security checks at Finnish airports difficult. Image: Mauri Ratilainen / AOP

National conciliator Minna Helle has invited trade unions to talk over potential industrial action by aviation workers. The organisations involved are Trade Union Pro, the Finnish Aviation Union (IAU) and Service Sector Employers association Palta.

Pro and Palta will meet the conciliator on Tuesday morning, with IAU joining Palta and Helle on Wednesday. The talks centre on the collective bargaining agreement among employees of Airpro, a subsidiary of airport operator Finavia.

Both IAU and Pro have released strike warnings over the dispute. Industrial action will take place on Friday barring earlier reconciliation. A strike would seriously hinder security checks as well as flights from travel agencies Tui and Tjäreborg and airline Norwegian.

IAU: "Resolution possible"

Pro and IAU say they want to negotiate a new and better bargain for their Airpro customers. Palta refuses to arrange a separate agreement with the unions. The existing collective bargaining agreement was reached by unions JHL and Pardia.

"At least we have some time to find a solution to this, this can't be impossible to resolve," says IAU chair Juhani Haapasaari. "The main thing is we're renegotiating at last."

Palta, which represents Airpro, is saying that Pro and IAU must settle for the still-valid agreement, made according to the government's competitiveness pact. Pro and IAU were not included in the pact.

"All of Finnish society is in this competitiveness deal," says Palta vice CEO Tuomas Aarto. "Our stance is that these unions will not be getting their own collective bargaining agreements."

The strike warnings come at a bad time, as each February Finnish students and their families look forward to spending time off the books and on the slopes during the annual Ski Holiday break. The ski holidays are stretched out over three weeks for different regions; Feb 20-24 for schools in southern Finland, Feb 27 – Mar 3 for Central Finnish schools and Mar 6-12 for Eastern and Northern Finland.

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