The unions are demanding that the Government withdraw their planned amendment to the Employment Contracts Act which is aimed at easing the criteria for individual dismissal in businesses employing 20 people or less.
The 220,000 member strong Industrial Union has now called a ban on overtime in almost all of its sectors. The ban will remain in place for the time being, the Union says and adds that it is the first step in what promises to be a protracted campaign of progressive industrial action.
"The Industrial Union will not accept a weakening of the protection against dismissal for anyone. We demand that the government drop the bill immediately, as it would only cause arbitrary layoffs", the Union announces.
The Finnish Transport Workers' Union AKT began an overtime ban in several sectors on Monday 17 September. It will last until the end of the month, but the Union board do not exclude other measures either, should these be necessary.
AKT says the planned amendment is discriminating and humiliates employees.
Trade Union Pro also began an overtime ban on 17 September. It covers more than ten of the Union agreement sectors. Pro organise those working as experts, supervisors or clerks in several fields in the industry, financial, service, ICT and communication sectors.
Jorma Malinen, the President of Pro says that the Union is not demanding anything unreasonable. "We only want that legislation is developed in a just and balanced way, taking into account the effects it may have on employees."
Tehy, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super, the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses have announced an overtime and shift swap ban on 26—28 September. These measures do have an effect, as there is a lot of overtime work done in the health care sector.
"The amendment sets citizens in an unequal position. This Pandora's box must not be opened", says Tehy President Millariikka Rytkönen.
Many unions have announced that they are planning measures against the bill, but have not yet explained what these will be in any detail. JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors says that they will let it be known what measures they intend to take after 24 September.
The Board of the Service Union United PAM decided on Tuesday 18 September that the union will begin an overtime ban in all of their sectors. The dates are to be announced later.
Among other unions that have so far said that they are ready to take measures are the Finnish Food Workers' Union SEL, the Finnish Post and Logistics Union PAU, Talentia Union of Professional Social Workers, the Trade Union of Education OAJ, Finnish Engineers’ Association and The Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees Jyty.
The unions that are ready to take measures belong to all three Finnish trade union confederations: SAK, Akava and STTK. Industrial Union, AKT, JHL, PAM, SEL and PAU are members of SAK, Pro, Tehy, Super and Jyty are members of STTK and Talentia, OAJ and Finnish Engineers’ Association members of Akava.
The Finnish Government will decide this autumn whether they are to proceed with the amendment or not.
Heikki Jokinen / Freelancer