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Unions threaten industrial action over plans to ease firing for small firms

Health and social care workers will not cover their colleagues' shifts or work overtime if plans to make it easier for small firms to sack employees move ahead.

Image: Sari Gustafsson / Lehtikuva

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland (Tehy) says it will prohibit shift swaps and overtime work over what they see as the government’s policies of inequality.

The backdrop to the announcement is government’s proposal to amend labour contract laws to make it easier for firms employing fewer than 20 people to trim their payrolls. Labour unions have called on the government to roll back the proposal, but so far to no avail.

The aim of the government’s scheme is to increase employment by lowering the threshold for hiring. Essentially, the thinking is that the easier it is for firms to fire employees, the more likely they'll be to hire them.

According to the health and social workers’ union, the proposal would put workers on an unequal footing.

“The proposal is also problematic from the perspective of equality. Job security in the social and health care sector isn’t protected by the same provisions as collective agreements in many male-dominated fields. The draft bill will lead to major new problems in female-dominated sectors,” Tehy chair Millariikka Rytkönen said in a press release.

Teachers’ union still to announce action

On Thursday, the teachers’ union OAJ announced that it was planning industrial action to protest what it called a weakening of employees’ protection from retrenchment. However the union did not disclose its planned measures.

“We are talking about a major change that would affect a large number of private sector companies and hundreds of workers in the education and training field. Studies have not shown any clear evidence that making it easier to fire people would boost employment,” OAJ chair Olli Luukkainen said in a statement.

Previously, the Industrial Union, the voice of workers across a swathe of industrial sectors, said that it would also resort to industrial action if the government does not back down on the unpopular scheme.

The commenting round for the bill aimed at making it easier for employers in small firms to fire workers ended in mid-August.

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