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Aku Vikström, the CEO of Noho Partners, says the restaurant operator has no choice but to launch talks that could affect the livelihood of thousands of people in Finland. (Hanna Matikainen – Lehtikuva)

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NOHO PARTNERS, the operator of over 200 restaurants in Finland, on Tuesday stated it will begin consultative negotiations with its 1,300 staff members to align its operations to the restrictions announced by the Finnish government.

The restaurant industry giant expects the negotiations to have an indirect impact also on its roughly 2,000 temporary agency employees.

The objective of the six-week negotiations, it stated, is to “minimise the financial effects” caused by the coronavirus pandemic and adjust operations to the decline in volume brought about by the restrictions on the opening and serving hours of restaurants.

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The negotiations are expected to lead to changes in the organisational structure, temporary lay-offs, conversions of full-time contracts to part-time ones and lay-offs. The lay-offs to be weighed up in the negotiations will primarily target administrative employees at various levels of the organisation, according to Noho Partners.

Its announcement came shortly after the government had revealed it is planning on limiting restaurants’ opening hours to 4am—1am and serving hours to 9am—12am. Restaurants across the country will be required to adjust their hours to align with the restrictions by Thursday, 8 October.

Aku Vikström, the CEO of Noho Partners, said the restrictions will inevitably have an impact on restaurant operations.

“We are forced to immediately launch an adjustment effort that could affect the livelihood of as many as thousands of people,” he lamented in a press release issued only 20 minutes after the government’s press conference.

Noho Partners, which also operates in Denmark and Norway, has previously revealed it has outlined three scenarios for its operations in the unusual circumstances. The group has operated in accordance with its baseline scenario, with sales at about 70–85 per cent of the levels of last year, since June.

“Following the Finnish government’s restrictions, the company expects to transition to continuing its business in accordance with its low scenario, where sales are 50–70 per cent of the levels of last year,” it said on Tuesday.

Vikström also took the opportunity to comment on the debate kindled by the corporate social responsibility-related remarks of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP).

“In light of the recent debate on corporate social responsibility, I am hoping for transparency and decision-making based on diverse views from the Finnish government as we look to strike a balance between the protection of health, economy and jobs,” he said. “If lay-offs are carried out, the restrictions can at worst lead to tens of thousands of people in the industry becoming jobless and alienated.”

“The restaurant restrictions in our other countries of operation, Denmark and Norway, have been strict, but the central administrations have simultaneously support the operations of companies in the restaurant industry. This has had a major impact on the employment situation in the industry.”

His concerns were echoed by the Finnish Hospitality Association (Mara).

Mara on Tuesday estimated that the restrictions will effectively reduce the sales window of nightclubs to one hour, thus having “an extremely negative impact” on the position of nightclub employees.

Major nightclubs, it gauged, may see their revenues plunge by up to 90 per cent.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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