Up to 100,000 workers are on strike this week, as members of the Finnish Industrial Union Teollisuusliitto and other unions stage three days of strikes.
It’s the largest industrial action to hit Finland in recent years and mostly affecting workers in the technology, chemicals and mechanical forestry industries.
The union has called the three-day action over a dispute on improved pay and working conditions. At the beginning of December the National Conciliator brokered talks between the unions and employer’s representatives but a proposal to end the strike was not accepted by Teollisuusliitto because the salary offer was considered too low.
The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK which represents employers estimates the strike could cost up to €200 million to the Finnish economy – taking into account the multiplier effect of labour disputes on other industries.
SAK, the umbrella organisation representing different trade unions, says the negotiations with the Industrial Union are holding up several other disputes that are waiting for a resolution.
“The stalling of technology industry contract negotiations is holding back all other negotiating tables” says Jarkko Eloranta, president of SAK.
More collective bargaining deals in the pipeline
To picture what’s going on with the union negotiations, think of it like a fast food drive-thru window.
The Finnish Industrial Union have given their order and they’re now waiting at the window to get their burgers. Until they are satisfied that they got what they asked for – or at least they are satisfied with what they’re given – nobody else can pick up their order.
Behind the Finnish Industrial Union are several other unions – including those representing workers in theatre and television production, electricity sector workers and people employed at ski resorts.
They’ve all given their orders, but can’t inch forward to get their burgers until the Finnish Industrial Union is out the way first.
One SAK official says when the Industrial Union is cleared, it will be like several pick-up windows opened at once, serving multiple unions at the same time.