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Helsinki train strike cancelled

Commuter train drivers in the Helsinki region cancelled a strike due to take place from 3am until 9am on Monday.

A rare sight on Monday 7 October. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

On Sunday evening Helsinki train drivers cancelled a strike due to shut down local train services in the capital during the Monday morning rush hour.

The strike would have caused the cancellation of all local train services in the Helsinki region. Long-distance services were to be unaffected by the action.

The union had called the strike after claiming that managers at VR, the state railway monopoly, are not respecting existing agreements and infringing on drivers’ free time.

The dispute centres on the mechanism by which drivers rostered as substitutes discover the times of shifts they’re asked to fill. VR has up to now called or informed by SMS of the exact location and timing drivers on those shifts should turn up, but in future they will be notified via an app.

The union says workers on their days off, annual leave or sick leave have to use company systems on their days off without compensation, and that is in breach of the current agreements governing the sector.

The drivers’ representatives say this should be counted as working time, and they should receive compensation for it.

In a press release, employers’ umbrella organisation Palta claimed that Monday’s industrial action is illegal. According to Palta, there is a mechanism to resolve differences of opinion on collective agreements, and the matter is still under consideration.

Until it was called off, the strike was expected to cause delays and congestion on the roads on Monday as large numbers of commuters commuters look for alternatives or stay at home.

In 2017 HSL reported that some 20,000 people every morning were estimated to use Helsinki commuter trains to reach the city centre during the morning rush hour.

EDIT This story originally stated the strike was set to last until 9pm, when the strike officially ends at 9am.

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