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Unions unimpressed with gov't tweak to proposed dismissal reform

Facing a backlash from the labour movement, the government is backpedalling on a planned reform of redundancy laws.

Työmininisteri Jari Lindström työaikalain muutoksia koskevassa tiedotustilaisuudessa 27. syyskuuta.
Employment Minister Jari Lindström Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

The Finnish government has made concessions on its proposal seeking to make it easier for certain businesses to fire employees.

Employment Minister Jari Lindström announced on Tuesday that instead of the reform affecting companies with fewer than 20 employees, the worker limit will drop to 10 or less. The new version of the bill will also drop the 90-day loss of unemployment benefits automatically imposed by a dismissal under the reform to a 60-day loss instead.

The white-collar union confederation STTK indicated its opposition to the new version of the move immediately after Lindström concluded his press conference. The group says it is still opposed to the bill on the fundamental principle that it places people on unequal footing when it comes to protection against being laid off.

Finland's almost-million-member strong blue-collar union confederation SAK says it will address the change in a statement on Friday. The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) said it was continuing its call for the government to scrap the bill entirely.

Andersson: Attempt at compromise "bogus"

Shortly after the government announced its concessions, opposition Left Alliance chair Li Andersson called their attempt at compromise "bogus". She said the tweak does nothing to fix the problems associated with the bill. Acting Greens chair Maria Ohisalo echoed her sentiment, saying Lindström's changes offered no solutions to the problem of disparity.

The business owners' Federation of Finnish Enterprises on the other hand said that it was happy with Lindström's revised version of the bill, though they feel the bill original employee count of 20 workers or less would have been better in terms of its effect on the national economy. The Federation stands by its belief that the bill will encourage Finland's small companies to hire people more easily.

Several unions have agreed to participate in a 24-hour strike and overtime ban on Wednesday, 3 October to protest the bill. The SAK announced on Monday that they would only call off the strike if the government cancels the proposal entirely.

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