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Energy sector strike in February could hit electricity distribution

A major white-collar union has announced an energy industry walkout, alongside one in the tech branch.

Mies istuu valvomossa, jossa on paljon näyttöjä.
The union says that sites of national importance will be kept running. Image: Kalle Niskala / Yle

White-collar workers at many energy companies will walk off the job on 1 February unless a contract deal is reached by then, the Trade Union Pro said on Friday. The week-long strike is to end on 8 February. The Finnish Engineers Union is also taking part in the industrial action.

Pro says it is calling the strike due to a lack of progress in collective bargaining talks. As with many other ongoing labour disputes, the employers and employees' sides remain far apart on wages as well as the so-called 'kiky hours'. This is a vestige of the 2016 competitiveness pact, where unions agreed to add about three days of unpaid work annually for most workers in exchange for concessions from employers and the government, then led by Juha Sipilä.

Now, with many contracts dropping the stipulation, unions are trying to get rid of the unpaid 24 hours altogether. Since the agreement was made, the government has changed twice, with the previous cabinet led by former Pro chair Antti Rinne.

Pro said that firms in the energy sector are demanding that they stay in place, and argued that the arrangement amounts to a de facto wage cut.

The two sides are expected to resume talks on 22 January, so the strike could still be called off.

Critical infrastructure to be secured

If it does go ahead, Pro said it will impact production and distribution of heat and electricity. However nationally critical infrastructure will be maintained, the union says.

Some 500 staff members are to take part at 10 companies, including the main power utilities in Helsinki, Vantaa, Tampere and Turku.

Pro says that employees of other firms who work within these facilities will join in the walkout.

The planned industrial action comes alongside others announced last weekend, which are to hit an array of corporations in the technology, heavy industry, chemicals and paper sectors. It is to start on 27 January and run through 9 February.

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