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Finland's Industrial Union planning strike next week

Finnish industrial workers are planning to join welfare sector union JHL in a strike to protest a bill making it easier for small firms to fire employees.

Lakkovahteja Metso Mineralsin tehtaalla Tampereella 3. lokakuuta.
Guards on strike watch at the Metso Minerals plant in Tampere on October 3. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

The Industrial Union is joining welfare sector union JHL in strike action next week to protest the government’s bill that would make it easier for small firms to fire workers. Some 7,000 industrial workers in the wood and paper sector will lay down their tools during the three-day strike from 25-28 October, with the Industrial Union vowing further strike action in the coming weeks.

On Friday the Industrial Union announced that 100,000 of its members would be withdrawing from PM Juha Sipilä's 'competitiveness pact' which increased the annual workload by 24 hours at the start of 2017. The union has enforced an overtime ban for its members since last month.

In retaliation, business owners group the Federation of Finnish Enterprises called on employers to stop deducting union membership fees from employee payroll. The federation, representing 115,000 companies, said labour unions were showing disregard for parliamentarism by placing themselves above lawmakers.

Next week's work stoppages mark an escalation of union opposition to the government bill to take away standard dismissal protections in smaller firms. On Wednesday the government survived a confidence vote over the measure, with Finnish lawmakers effectively approving the legislative change easing restrictions on firing employees at companies with fewer than 10 workers.

Earlier this month, Finnish industrial workers joined service, food, and electric workers in a 24-hour strike to protest the same bill.

19 October 4:28 pm: This story was edited to add further details on the strike action.

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