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Conductors to shut down rail network in wildcat strike

Train conductors in Finland will walk off the job on Thursday in protest at the government’s transport policies, causing the cancellation of some 300 long-distance services. The move comes on the heels of the announcement that some 214 jobs could be lost as the state railways company VR looks to cut costs.

Juna ohittamassa asemaa.
Long distance rail travel could grind to a halt on Thursday as conductors go on strike. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finnish train conductors are to walk off the job on Thursday in a wildcat strike that will shut down long-distance rail transport nationwide. The stoppage starts officially at 3am and will last for 24 hours, and will according to the state railways VR cause the cancellation of 300 services.

"We are protesting against political decision-making and the current government’s actions," said Niko Pelho, who chairs the conductors union’s 51st chapter.

According to Pelho, the goal is to completely shut down long-distance train travel. Pelho says VR’s announcement of talks that could lead to more than 200 job losses are the spark for the action. VR has cut some services and will close some home offices of train conductors. The hob losses come on top of a reduction of 150 workers that was already announced. Other staff will be furloughed for several weeks this year and next.

Night trains, international trains and Helsinki region commuter trains are to remain unaffected by Thursday’s strike action. VR CEO MIkael Aro said that the company was unable to react in time to the action.

"Such a broad, illegal industrial action without any prior warning means that we can't organise replacement services," said Aro.

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