Wednesday strike: what you need to know

Transport, school services, kindergartens, businesses and supermarkets will all feel the crunch from the strike.

File picture of metro train in Helsinki / Credit: News Now Finland

Finland is slowing down today, as tens of thousands of workers belonging to a number of different unions are staging a one day strike.

The industrial action is taking place to protest the government’s plans to make it easier for small businesses to fire workers. Even though the Minister of Employment Jari Lindström has weakened the original proposals, unions say he hasn’t backtracked enough.

“Our opinion will not change, as far as we do not consider this dismissal act fair in any way” Jarkko Eloranta, President of Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions SAK tells News Now Finland.

Today’s strike is going to impact many different sectors, affecting industry, small and medium-sized businesses, transport and even grocery shopping. And the impact won’t just be felt today, as some sectors will continue to be hit for the rest of the week as well.

Public transportation

Many staff working on railways and the metro belong to JHL union and the overtime ban, and ban on changing shifts, will mean disruption to services today. The number of canceled routes will vary depending on driver availability.

“We have had to cancel some of the departures to keep the lines running on schedule as much as possible” says Director of Traffic Operators Arttu Kuukankorpi from Helsinki City Transport (HKL)

Kuusankorpi suggests customers check the latest information on HKL’s website.

Some bus routes in Tampere will also be impacted by today’s strike.

Grocery stores

The Finnish Food Workers’ Union (SEL), which includes more than 4500 food industry workers, is taking part in the strike today but it will impact deliveries and supplies of food on supermarket shelves for the rest of the week.

For example, deliveries to breweries and meat product deliveries will stop, and this could mean supermarkets run out over the next few days.

But if they’re smart, store owners have already planned ahead.

“We’ve prepared to go to the end of the week by ordering some extra meat and bakery products” says K-Food Retailer Aleksi Siltanen from Helsinki.

Hospitals and medical care

In total, about 60,000 health workers belongs to the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) which consists of a large number of staff in hospitals and health centers around Finland.

The union launched an overtime and shift change ban for its members already on Monday which continues indefinitely. Some of the industries affected by the industrial action include all services provided by central or local government like health, schools, universities, police, road maintenance, day care, services for the elderly, government office services and libraries. The union hasn’t set a time limit for how long the overtime ban will continue, but they say action that lasts just a few days rarely makes an impact.

Day cares and schools

JHL union members who work in education are on strike today. Teachers themselves aren’t striking, so the industrial action shouldn’t affect classrooms directly, but school staff like caretakers and food service workers and cleaners might join the strike.

Finland’s industrial sector

President of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions SAK Jarkko Eloranta thinks the strike will hurt businesses more than members of the public.

“These actions have no direct impact on people’s lives” he says.

There are about 22,000 workers at more than 150 companies across all sectors of Finnish industry involved in today’s industrial action, which is likely to hit their profitability during the work stoppage.