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Posti strike to delay Kela payments, hospital letters

Unemployment benefits and income support are particularly at risk of being paid late, says the social insurance agency. 

Mies aukaisee Kelan ovea.
Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

The postal strike which is due to start on Monday could delay payment of benefits from Kela, the country's social insurance institution. The strike by Posti workers is scheduled to last twoweeks.

Unemployment benefits and income support are particularly at risk of being overdue, according to Kela.

The institution points out that applications and documents sent by customers may not reach Kela in time due to the strike, causing delay in decisions.

"This affects benefits where applications are pending, further clarification is expected, or the actual application has to be mailed to us," says Matti Happonen of Kela.

Officials are advising customers to fill in their applications using Kela's online service or report their notification of unemployment using its phone service. Applications and other attachments can be also dropped off directly at Kela’s service points.

"Online services are the first (choice), as everything else will be congested," Happonen added.

Around 22,000 patient letters undelivered

Hospitals across Finland are also bracing for the impact of the postal strike.

Tampere University Hospital (TAYS) has calculated that 22,000 of its letters will remain undelivered during the strike. They will include invitations to treatment, patient update letters and invoices.

"It is very likely that most letters will not be delivered during the strike," the hospital's Communications Specialist Anni Vähälä said.

TAYS has extended the payment period for invoices from the usual 14 to 30 days because of the strike.

Meanwhile, Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) officials said they had instructed doctors to process urgent referrals from the beginning of November so that patients could be notified in time.

“We want to ensure patients' care regardless of the postal strike, which is why we have prepared ourselves for the situation in advance,” HUS' Chief Administrative Physician, Teppo Heikkilä, said in a statement.

Hospital officials at both the Tampere and Helsinki university hospitals have said that they will contact patients with urgent needs by phone.

Letters concerning treatment feedback and patient updates that may not be delivered during this period can be viewed electronically in the patient records database Omakanta, hospital officials said.

Enforcement offices to be affected

The National Administrative Office for Enforcement is preparing for the postal strike by postponing payment requests. Recovery invoices will also not be mailed during the strike, officials said in a statement.

New payment requests suspended during the strike won’t be visible in the enforcement office’s electronic service. However, customers can view and handle all matters that were pending before the strike, the statement said.

Postal workers’ representatives announced the strike after a failure to reach an agreement with Posti on a new deal covering wages, terms and conditions in the sector. Some 9,000 workers in mail delivery, handling and transportation jobs are to stay off the job from 6 am on Monday, 11 November until midnight on Sunday, 24 November.

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