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PM Sipilä calls confidence vote over firing law

The government wants to put pressure on trade unions, which have called strikes over plans to make it easier to fire workers.

Pääministeri Juha Sipilä, työministeri Jari Lindström (oik) ja eduskuntaryhmän puheenjohtaja Kalle Jokinen saapuivat tapaamaan mediaa eduskunnan Valtiosaliin ennen eduskunnan kyselytuntia Helsingissä torstaina 11. lokakuuta
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Employment Minister Jari Lindström and chair of the National Coalition parliamentary group Kalle Jokinen in parliament on Thursday. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is to call a confidence vote in parliament over the government’s employment policy, raising the stakes in a dispute with labour unions over moves to weaken job security for workers in small firms.

Unions have called strikes and overtime bans in response, with 24-hour stoppages across transport networks and some sectors of the economy on Wednesday. The government reacted to the threat of industrial action by reducing the size of firm affected from those with twenty employees or fewer to those with fewer than ten staff.

Employment Minister Jari Lindström of the Blue Reform party said that the government wanted to draw a line under the resistance from organised labour.

“It can’t be that extra-parliamentary forces dictate how the government takes this forward,” said Minister for Employment Jari Lindström. “It’s a shame that things are in this state, but the government has to move this forward decisively.”

Sipilä said he would use the procedural device of a prime ministerial communique, which would be discussed by legislators next Tuesday. A confidence vote would then follow on Wednesday, with a defeat for the government forcing Sipilä to resign.

“We are asking parliament whether the government’s line has broad support in parliament,” said the Centre Party leader.

Sipilä emphasised that the government was asking for support for its employment policies as a whole, rather than the weaker employment protection in particular.

Speaking next to Kalle Jokinen, parliamentary group chair of the third government party the National Coalition, he added that unions have been reluctant to launch political strikes once issues have been voted on in parliament and expressed the hope they might pull back from previously-announced industrial action set to ratchet up in stages in the coming weeks unless the government pulls the reform.

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