The government, which includes the far-right Finns party, has launched a wide range of attacks on the country’s industrial relations system and acquired workers’ rights. Proposed measures include weaker job security, unpaid sick leave, and restrictions on the right to strike. These measures are seen as ideologically motivated rather than driven by economic necessity.
The first cuts, affecting the unemployed, have already taken effect. Furthermore, a ban on overtime was put in place on 10 January 2024 and will end on 4 February 2024. It applies to several sub-sectors in the metal, chemical and textiles industries and contradicts the Nordic model, which normally rejects differential treatment and restrictions. The government is preparing further measures that are expected to massively increase social inequality in Finland.
The trade unions are fighting back vigorously. The confederations organised three weeks of protests in September last year. The unions have also been involved in negotiations and discussions with the government. They have actively participated in tripartite working groups and parliamentary hearings to highlight the potential negative impact of the proposed reforms and their minimal effect on reducing public spending.
The Industrial Union will step up the pressure with strike action. They have called for a strike at 715 workplaces, affecting all shifts scheduled for 1 and 2 February 2024 in industrial workplaces. Strikes have also been announced for postal services, schools, hotels and restaurants, and transport.
Individuals and civil society have been called on to the join the mass demonstration on 1 February and to join the fight to roll back the reforms and stop the attacks on the fundamental rights of workers and the most vulnerable in society.
Isabelle Barthès, Acting Joint General Secretary of industriAll Europe, said:
"As a European industrial workers’ movement, we will not tolerate attacks on trade unions anywhere! We assure our Finnish sisters and brothers of our full solidarity in their struggle to defend workers' rights.
"And to the right-wingers: we're on to you!
“We are not fooled by the rhetoric of far-right parties who claim to defend workers' interests, but once in power attack trade unions and restrict workers' rights. From Finland to Italy, we have seen this recipe for disaster play out in all the countries where the far-right has gained ground. We will not stop fighting back with proposals that genuinely defend our interests.”