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Govt to amend "easy to fire" bill but unions want law scrapped

According to information obtained by Yle, the "easy to fire" bill will apply to firms with fewer than 10 employees instead of the original 20.

Mies pakkaa tavaroitaan työpaikalla.
Image: Viacheslav Iakobchuk / AOP

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's administration announced Tuesday afternoon that it would amend planned legal reforms aimed at making it easier for small firms employing fewer than 20 persons to sack workers.

The proposal is said to contain “central changes” on the basis of feedback generated during the draft legislation’s commenting round, according to a statement issued by the Ministry for Labour and the Economy.

On Monday afternoon Minister of Employment Jari Lindström declined to divulge the nature of the amendments to Yle. The minister did say though that the government had no intention of withdrawing the bill as labour unions have demanded.

“We are taking this forward. But there are probably elements of it that we can adjust,” he commented.

However according to information obtained by Yle, the updated bill would apply to firms with fewer than 10 employees. Additionally, terminations based on employee shortcomings would results in a shorter freeze on receiving unemployment benefits after being sacked.

Minister: Need to "calm the situation"

Several labour organisations have announced a one-day strike over the measure that will take place on Wednesday. On Monday, the main blue collar labour federation SAK signalled that it would not settle for tweaks to the contents of the proposed measure.

The nearly one-million-member-strong umbrella organisation said that it would pull back the planned industrial action only if the government pulls the bill entirely and added that it would not enter talks to discuss the contents of the draft legislation.

Lindström told Yle that it is likely that Wednesday’s strike action would go ahead.

“We can hardly do anything about the planned strokes. They will happen, but the main thing is to calm the situation. Reaching a compromise always requires both sides to come together,” he added.

Meanwhile employee representatives have threatened to continue and even expand the partial strike action if the government does not abandon the "easy to fire" proposal.

Speculation over possible amendments

The government’s proposal aims to lower the threshold for small business owners to hire new staff by making it easier for them to fire current workers.

Sipilä has previously said that his administration is prepared to adjust the size of firms that the legislation would affect as well as revisit the benefits deferment period in the case of terminations based on employee shortcomings.

The deferment period has come under scrutiny since terminations based on employee lapses would automatically impose a 90-day loss of unemployment benefits.

On Monday the teachers’ union OAJ and Talentia, the union representing professionals in social work, social welfare and early childhood education both said that they were joining the fray with a ban on shift swaps.

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