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Nokia shares plummet, unions call for action

Nokia shares took a nosedive Thursday on the Helsinki Exchange following the announcement of 10,000 job cuts worldwide and a profit warning for the second quarter of this year.

Riku Aalto
Riku Aalto Image: Yle

Unions in Finland called for action ranging from direct compensation for sacked workers to a national emergency programme.

Investors were not reassured by cost reductions announced by Nokia Thursday.

News of further job cuts and a warning that the second-quarter loss from its services and device business would be larger than expected, pushed the price of its shares down by nearly 11 percent in the afternoon.   

The share price dipped well below two euros, down from a peak of some 65 euros in 2000.

Union condemnation

The Chairman of Finland's SAK blue collar union federation Lauri Lyly has demanded substantial help from Nokia to those losing their jobs. He says this would test the company's social responsibility.

The Finnish Metalworkers’ Union Thursday condemned Nokia's plans and demanded that the company take responsibility for the employees being dismissed at its production plant in Salo.

The union said that the programme that Nokia implemented when it closed its plant in Bochum, Germany, would be a good model for action here as well. When Nokia shut the plant in Bochum, it worked out a deal with unions that brought each worker up to 125,000 euros in redundancy payments. In addition Nokia paid two thirds of unemployed former workers for a period of up to one year.

Metalworkers’ Union chair Riku Aalto sharply condemned the plan to close the plant in Salo as unfounded and hasty.

"Is this the thanks personnel now get for their decades of work that made Nokia flourish?" asked Aalto.

He argued that Nokia is shifting the burden of its mistakes onto its employees, and that the company has been aware of its problems for so long that something could have done to correct them.

Pertti Porokari, president of the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland (UIL), said that Finland must do more to attract foreign IT companies. This would include a boost in technical training, he said.

Cabinet promises help

The Finnish government met on Thursday afternoon to discuss developments at the nation's biggest company. 

Although the specific number of job losses in the northern town of Oulu is not yet clear, the city will likely be eligible for special state subsidies to cushion the blow. Minister of Economic Affairs Jyri Häkämies said that Oulu will probably receive structural change funds.

On the local level, the chair of the Salo City Council, Katja Taimela said she was stunned by Thursday's announcements.

"There were rumours going around this spring that there might be further redundancies next autumn, but I wasn't prepared for this kind of news -- I doubt anyone was," she told Yle.

In Tampere, city mayor Timo P. Nieminen believes the area will fair better at recovering from the job losses than elsewhere in Finland. However, he admitted there were dark clouds on the horizon.  


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