Frequently asked questions

What’s it all about?

#SeriousGrounds is a cry of alarm from the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and its affiliated unions on behalf of employees and the unemployed. We have expressed our concern in many ways about the devastating impact on employees and the unemployed of the cuts that were announced in the Government Programme last spring. These concerns have fallen on deaf ears, so we have to apply other means to ensure that workers are heard.

Where and when will the Government make these cuts?

Most of the cuts and losses of rights are already in preparation. The Orpo-Purra Government is seeking to implement them within a year.

The Government is planning many major changes in labour law, the right to strike and social welfare. The changes in labour law and the right to strike will exclusively benefit employers, and not their employees. The particular victims of social welfare cuts will be people on low incomes, part-time and casual employees, and the unemployed.

View the list of cuts here.

Will the Government measures affect the Finnish economy?

The Government has tried to justify these cuts on economic grounds, but undermining the status of employees will have no significant impact on the Finnish economy. Instead these measures are motivated by certain general attitudes and values.

Cuts in unemployment benefit are supposed to save costs and boost employment, but many claimants face difficulties in entering the job market due to inappropriate skills, health problems, or a lack of full-time work in the industry for which they are skilled. The cuts will push these claimants into a wide variety of alternative benefit schemes, with a significant risk of falling into poverty.

Why have the unions launched political strike action?

The Government is not listening to the concerns of employees, and has declined to negotiate with their representatives in any meaningful way. The trade union movement must accordingly apply other approaches to ensure that the voice of employees is heard.

Unions affiliated to SAK began a programme of political strike action in autumn 2023, calling on the Government to cancel the cuts and initiate genuine dialogue with employee representatives. This means that the political strikes are not primarily aimed at employers, but seek to influence political decisions. This campaign of industrial action has been arranged under the banner of #SeriousGrounds.

Do I have the right to take part in political strike action?

As an employee, you have the legal right to take part in a political strike. The trade unions will decide which workplaces and duties are covered by the strike. Your employer cannot punish you for taking part in a strike arranged by a trade union.

You will not earn wages when you are on strike, but union members may claim strike pay from the union for the duration of the strike. Contact your own union for further details. If you are not already a union member, now would be a very wise time to join. You can find your union at (service available in Finnish, Swedish and English).

What is the goal?

We want the Orpo-Purra Government to reconsider the impact of its policies on employees, and on the unemployed and their families. It could begin by reviewing the combined impacts of various measures on people in individual circumstances, and engaging in genuine dialogue with employee representatives about changes in the world of work and social welfare.

Why right now?

The Orpo-Purra Government has already begun preparing many proposals to undermine working conditions, cut social welfare and restrict the right to strike. The Government is already seeking to introduce a major segment of these losses and cuts within a year. For example, some of the cuts in unemployment benefit are already scheduled to take effect at the start of 2024.

Why don’t you negotiate, instead of demonstrating?

We have been forced to take this action, because the Orpo-Purra Government is not listening to the legitimate concerns of workers. The tripartite working groups set up by the Government are largely a pretence at consultation, because the Government has already determined the outcome in advance. No other government has behaved in this way for decades.

Are you opposing the employers?

We are not opposing the employers. These employee demonstrations are resistance to proposals from the Orpo-Purra Government that would unreasonably weaken job security, drastically cut social welfare, and restrict the right to strike. They will involve walkouts in some types of work, which will disrupt the operations of businesses. Such disruptions are an aspect of a right to political industrial action that is protected under the Finnish Constitution and in international treaties.

Are you opposed to the Government?

We are not opposed to the Government as such, but to its proposals to impair the rights and cut the benefits of employees and the unemployed. The Government Programme is essentially unbalanced: including numerous proposals to damage the status of employees, while saying nearly nothing about the duties of an employer. We are calling for the Government to make its policy more employee-friendly, and to initiate genuine dialogue with employee representatives about changes that will affect the world of work.

Why don’t you respect the outcome of democratic elections?

We support the right of people to influence their governance through democratic means, but democracy also involves enabling people to take a stand on policymaking between elections. A democracy always empowers individuals, the trade union movement and other civic organisations, businesses and public bodies to express their views on the proposals of policymakers, and to resist those proposals by more vigorous demonstrations where necessary.

Don’t demonstrations damage the economy and increase unemployment?

While the inconvenience caused by industrial action to employers and the public is regrettable, it will also be minimal and brief in comparison to the impact of changes planned by the Orpo-Purra Government, many of which will increase unemployment. Such measures as abolishing the protected portions of unemployment benefit and housing allowance will significantly reduce the incentive for part-time employees to increase their working time. The Government proposal to tighten tax relief for commuting by car and to end loan financing for building right-of-occupancy housing will also damage employment.

Haven’t you got anything better to do?

Of course we have. SAK and the trade unions work continuously to defend employees, both at workplaces and nationally. This work is continuing at all levels. The cuts and losses of rights proposed by the Orpo-Purra Government are narrowly focused on those employees, and would hamper the realisation of employee rights. That’s why we are doing everything we can to prevent their implementation.

Do you have any further measures coming up?

We are prepared to expand our actions if the Orpo-Purra Government fails to make its policy more employee-friendly and launch genuine dialogue with employee representatives about changes that will affect the world of work. SAK and the trade unions exist to defend the interests of employees.

What can I do to help?

  • Find out whether your own unions branch or national trade union is arranging any demonstrations and take part in them. There is a list of demonstrations here (in Finnish).
  • The demonstrations will also be reported in an SAK newsletter (in Finnish). You can order it here.
  • Share this information with your colleagues and others. You can print out the list of Orpo-Purra Government cuts or a leaflet explaining their detailed content to share with colleagues. These publications are available here.
  • SAK and the trade unions are arranging meetings and events where you will be able to express your dissatisfaction at Government policy. Monitor information coming from your own union.
  • The social media environment is a good place to make your voice heard. Follow, like, comment and share communications using the #PainavaSyy and #SeriousGrounds hashtags.
  • If you are not already a union member, now would be a very wise time to join. Find your own union and join at