SAK and affiliates to continue strikes for a further week

The Executive Board of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) today decided to continue an ongoing national programme of political strikes for a further week. The Executive Board will meet again to review the situation and any further continuation of industrial action after Easter.
28.03. 12:11
An estimated 13 000 protestors took part in a mass demonstration protesting against planned Government cuts in employee rights and social welfare on 1 February in Helsinki. Photo: Ilona Savitie och Sami Mäkinen.

– We have sought a fair and moderate approach from the Government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, but the Government has turned a deaf ear to employee organisations and is still seeking to implement several industrial policy goals with negative consequences for employees. Many of these goals will have no impact on employment or on the balance of public finances, says SAK President Jarkko Eloranta.

Eloranta stresses that the unions remain willing to call off the strikes at any time if the Government shows some appreciation for the concerns of employees.

A total of some 7,000 employees organised in the Industrial Union, the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union AKT, Service Union United PAM, the Finnish Construction Trade Union, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL and the Electrical Workers' Union are now on strike.

SAK enjoys popular support in responding to hardline Government

– The Government has been uncaring and deaf to the concerns of ordinary people, with another round of brutal social welfare cuts now due to take effect on 1 April. These and other cuts will plunge an additional 100,000 adults and 17,000 children into poverty, Eloranta says.

Eloranta finds that the callous approach of the Orpo-Purra Government remains a concern of employees and of the organisations that represent their interests. The social welfare cuts are already forcing many people on low incomes to move out of their homes. Eloranta finds that many families are now awaiting the upcoming Government spending limits debate with considerable trepidation.

– The Finnish public opposes the policies of the Orpo-Purra Government. Many people are already wondering whether the spending limits debate will visit even greater hardship on ordinary workers and the most vulnerable in our society.

Besides income cuts, the Government is undermining the rights of employees through an unprecedented assault on the culture of social consensus in Finland.

– Curtailing the right to strike reduces the ability of employees to seek better working conditions. Expanding local collective bargaining is a major deregulation of the world of work that will bring poverty wages and unacceptable terms and conditions to some jobs. Seven thousand employees are now striking for the sake of justice in society as a whole, Eloranta observes.

A survey commissioned by SAK from Verian between 21 and 26 March indicates that 51 per cent of the Finnish public approves of the strikes called by SAK and its affiliated trade unions against cuts in the world of work. Opposition to strike action was expressed by 42 per cent, and 7 per cent were undecided. In a total of 2,500 responses, the strongest support for the unions was found among young adults, women and employees.

– We have enjoyed strong public support throughout, and even though only employees in certain sectors are on strike, this remains a joint effort of the entire SAK confederation. The decision to continue industrial action was unanimous. We are all grateful for the contribution of striking employees, and we are all supporting them and their unions, Jarkko Eloranta insists.

Details of the strikes and their scope will be updated in Finnish on the SAK union action page as the unions announce them.

Verian survey between 21 and 26 March, 2024 (in Finnish)