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Industrial Union: Worker strikes could become "the new normal"

As the largest trade union for the welfare sector started a two-day strike, the chair of the Industrial Union says industrial actions may become more common.

Riku Aalto
Chairman of the Finnish Industrial Union Riku Aalto Image: Yle

Speaking on Yle's morning Aamu-TV programme on Monday morning, chairman of the Finnish Industrial Union Riku Aalto said that resolving labour disputes may become more common.

The JHL, the largest trade union for the welfare sector, started a two-day strike on Monday that affects many groups, including certain food services for daycares and schools in Finland.

"That disputes are solved this way may become the new normal," said Aalto. "I’m certainly not sure whether this a good thing for Finland or for social peace," he added.

The unions are currently in a dispute with government over its plan to make it easier to fire employees in small companies with less than 10 workers.

In addition, Tehy, The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland, and Super, the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses, is participating in the industrial action by forbidding switching shifts, for example.

More in store?

The Industrial Union has also announced that it will likely announce new strikes later this week to protest the government's proposed termination policy.

”The current dispute situation in the labour market will likely affect next year’s negotiations,” says Minna Helle, Executive Director of Industrial Relations at the Technology Industries of Finland.

She emphasized that the trust between different players in the labour force could weaken, even though the dispute is not between employers and workers.

”What’s key is that the political dispute is resolved as quickly as possible and future strikes are avoided. There is a lot of blame here, but there should be more emphasis on finding a solution. The cost of disputes is too high,” she said.

Need for resolution

Aalto said that he was of the same opinion as Helle, saying the dispute should be resolved as quickly as possible.

”We have tried to offer a road to negotiations to government, but that doesn't seem to be working as they have not made any counter offers,” said Aalto.

According to Aalto, the Industrial Union has industrial action contingency plans until mid-November.

”Of course we hope that these plans don’t need to be carried out,” he said.

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