Workers in the private day care sector have threatened industrial action this week if a suitable labour agreement cannot be negotiated in time. It is estimated that the strike could affect more than 10,000 children and their families throughout Finland.
For example, there are more than 9,000 children enrolled in the chain of Touhula day care centres, and the private Pilke day care centres care for some 3,000 under school-age children. The industrial action would also extend to workers for the Norland and Verkanappulat private day care providers. If the strike goes forward, it will shut down the facilities on Wednesday and Thursday, March 7 and 8.
The industrial action is linked to an ongoing labour dispute in Finland's social services sector. Representatives of the conflicting parties met through the weekend to try and hammer out an agreement, but so far have been unsuccessful.
Leaders of the Touhula and Pilke day care centres say that they will try to keep some of their locations open, even if the strike does take place.
"It looks like we will be able to keep at least one of our day care centres open in the larger cities. We will have more details on Monday," says Touhula's managing director Virpi Holmqvist.
Slim chance of agreement
Tuomas Mänttäri, labour market director for the employer-side of the negotiations, the Finnish Association of Private Care Providers, said on Sunday that the employer and employee groups that were in talks were having a hard time finding common ground. He says wage increases and zero-hour work contract restrictions are the biggest sticking points.
"If an agreement result is reached, it will probably come on Monday. We have to know what's going on by Monday evening, so we'll have time to figure out how to arrange things if there is going to be a strike," he says.