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Union "shocked" as Lapland's biggest tourism group starts redundancy talks with 2k jobs at risk

Travel restrictions have sharply lowered demand for hotels and activities.

Moottorikelkka talvisessa tykkypuumaisemassa Lapissa
Winter tourism in northern Finland has been hit hard by the pandemic. Image: Marcus Rosenlund

Lapland's biggest tourism conglomerate, North European Invest, is beginning co-determination negotiations involving its entire workforce.

The group owns Lapland Hotels and Lapland Safaris, which usually employ up to 2,000 people during the winter tourism season, some of them on short-term contracts.

"This is based on the uncertainty as to how many international travellers can be brought to Finland," North European Invest's chair Pekka Soini said on Monday.

The group has an annual turnover of some 100 million euros.

The redundancy talks will directly affect all 342 full-time employees of Lapland Hotels and Lapland Safaris, but also at risk are some 1,700 seasonal employees, of which 1,400 usually work for Lapland Hotels and Lapland Safaris.

Hundreds of subcontractors

The group also owns the Lapland Proving Ground cold-weather vehicle testing site in Muonio, which employs around 300 seasonal workers.

"The fate of our seasonal employees depends on the entry requirements for staff of our European client companies," says Soini.

North European Invest's subsidiaries also employ some 300 subcontractors, most of them small firms. Foreign tourists make up about three quarters of Lapland Hotels' and Lapland Safaris' customers.

PAM: "Shock"

The Service Union United PAM represents a large proportion of the workers affected by the labour talks.

"News of such extensive co-determination negotiations is a shock to the whole region and its people. Northern Finland has worked hard for decades to develop its tourism business and many depend on it for their livelihood. Now there is the danger that all that work will go down the drain and thousands of people may lose their jobs," said PAM's regional director, Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi.

PAM urged the government to quickly make decisions to advance safe travel into Finland, such as proposed "tourism bubbles" that would minimise visitors' contacts with locals and others.

"It is essential that the government act rapidly so that foreign tourism can be made possible through special arrangements this winter," said Näkkäläjärvi.

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