Businesses lost more than 80 million euros due to the massive demonstration staged by trade unions last September, estimates the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has revealed that its member organisations were embroiled in a total of 166 industrial conflicts last year, representing an increase of 23 from the previous year.

The industrial conflicts included a total of 105 strikes, 60 per cent of which were illegal, were participated in by a total of 128,000 employees and resulted in the loss of over 105,000 working days, according to a bulletin published by EK.

The strike statistics stand in start contrast to those in Sweden, for example.

“Finland is a very strike-prone country in comparison to other countries in Europe. We especially have a lot of illegal strikes. In Sweden, for example, no more than three illegal strikes were staged over the past six years, according to Medlingsinstitutet [the National Mediation Office of Sweden]. A total of 604 illegal strikes were staged in Finland over the same period of time,” highlights EK.

EK estimates in its press release that the massive legal demonstration organised by trade unions last September inflicted losses of over 80 million euros on businesses. “A day of political protest and its [subsequent] losses raise the question, is our system of industrial peace still up to date with respect to industrial conflicts,” it asks.

Trade Union Pro has contrastively proposed that the so-called grief strikes, strikes staged in protest of a labour practice perceived as unfair, be made legal in Finland. Such strikes, it points out, account for the majority of illegal strikes in the country.

“A grief strike is a short protest when employees leave the workplace in the middle of the day or stay home for one day. It is not a means to apply pressure on collective agreements, but an emotional response to a law perceived as unfair,” it states in a press release.

Pro points out that businesses that have reported positive results are also able to make redundancies in Finland.

“The reasons for grief strikes can be removed by restricting the right of businesses to lay off personnel. If there is no willingness to do that, grief strikes should be accepted as part of legal social activities,” says Else-Mai Kirvesniemi, a director of collective bargaining at Pro.

Matti Mikkola, a professor of labour law at the University of Helsinki, reminds in the press release published by Pro that the definition of an illegal strike is subject to some variation within the European Union.

“The concept of an illegal strike is broader in Finland than in the EU at large,” he says.

“The starting point elsewhere in the EU is that strikes are not a response to what has been laid out in [collective] agreements. Strikes can, on the other hand, be a response to issues not covered by the agreements, such as an employer's plans to cut jobs,” explains Mikkola.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jarno Mela – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi