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More unions join protest against plan to ease firing for small firms

Unions representing workers in the nursing and social and health care sectors said Monday that a ban on overtime work will begin next Wednesday.

Meilahden sairaalat.
Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

SuPer, the union representing Finland’s practical nurses announced Monday that it has imposed a ban on overtime work and shift swaps for personnel working in the municipal and private sectors.

The union said that the industrial action is due to begin next Wednesday, 26 September and will end two days later on Friday.

SuPer’s action is in response to government’s proposal to make it easier for small firms employing fewer than 20 persons to fire workers. The government said that it hopes that by making it easier to fire, it would also lower the threshold for firms to take on new hires. However the union said that the proposal would make it easier for firms to fire on trivial grounds.

"The role of the labour movement is to protect its members from the baseless weakening [of their status]," SuPer president Silja Paavola said in a statement.

The union explained that during the period of industrial action, members will perform their duties as usual, but will not offer flexibility by working overtime or by swapping shifts with colleagues.

Meanwhile Tehy, the union representing workers in the social and health care sector, also announced on Monday that it would embark on similar action during the same period next week.

"We cannot accept the erosion of our members' terms and conditions of work in this way. We want all workers to be treated equally regardless of the size of the employer and we demand that the government withdraw this proposal," Tehy chair Millariikka Rytkönen said in a press release.

Additionally, JHL, which represents workers in the welfare sector, joined other unions in imposing a ban on overtime work and shift swaps. Union chief Päivi Niemi-Laine told Yle that members would also take action next week, but did not indicate the schedule for its protest action.

"The government must be made to understand that it must end the erosion of labour laws. Very unfortunate degradations have been made and this time we will fight to the end," Niemi-Laine said.

Last week, a number of unions said that they would impose overtime bans starting from Monday.

Daily: People divided over govt proposal

Meanwhile daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Monday that a poll of roughly 1,000 respondents revealed that people were almost evenly split over the government’s plan to ease firing for small businesses.

According to HS, a total of 47 percent of people polled said that they either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ opposed the proposal. On the flip side of the coin, 43 said they either ‘fully’ or ‘somewhat’ backed the plan. However roughly 10 percent did not state their position on the issue.

In terms of party affiliation, 80 percent of National Coalition Party backers either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ supported the proposed measure, while 70 percent of Centre Party supporters held similar views.

The firing plan saw the stiffest opposition from supporters of the Left Alliance and the Social Democratic Party, with majorities of both groups opposing the proposal.

The poll’s margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.

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