The Finnish construction industry will come to a standstill due to a series of intermittent work stoppages to be staged between April and May.
The Finnish Construction Trade Union has announced work stoppages at the construction sites of seven construction companies and their subsidiaries that apply the current collective bargaining agreement in the construction industry to their employees.
The work stoppages are scheduled to take place on 19–24 April, 3–4 May and 7–8 May.
The Construction Trade Union has also said it will take further industrial action if the announced measures do not unlock the collective bargaining negotiations in the industry.
“Employers insist on offering wage increases proposed by [the Confederation of Finnish Industries] EK. The employers also demand that we approve the competitiveness pact retroactively – harmful revisions to agreements, removal of Sunday bonuses and complete de-regulation of temporary agency work,” says Matti Harjuniemi, the chairman of the Construction Trade Union.
The stoppages will have far-reaching consequences for not only the construction industry but also the national economy, says the other stakeholder in the gridlocked negotiations, the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries (RT).
Tapio Kari, the head of labour market affairs at RT, says the stoppages will cause major damage to the construction industry due to the participation of concrete suppliers, possibly delaying the completion of residential and other construction projects by up to three months.
“Construction is closely tied to the deliveries of ready-mixed and pre-cast concrete products,” he explains. “Random strikes throw off the schedule entirely. The interruption of supply chains necessitates the re-organisation of schedules and also reflects on other projects not affected by the strikes, causing long-term damage,” he argues.
RT has not provided an estimate of the costs of the announced stoppages but points out in its press release that a one-day strike affecting the entire construction industry would have a negative impact of 30 million euros on the national economy.
The Finnish Construction Trade Union and Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries are tasked with renewing a total of eight collective agreements.
The main bone of contention in the talks, which have dragged on for almost three months, has been wage increases. RT has proposed that wages be raised by 1.6 per cent per year during the two-year validity period of the new agreement. The Construction Trade Union, however, has rejected the proposal as insufficient, demanding that hourly wages be raised by 0.5 euros for the entire validity period.
The counter-proposal would raise wages in the construction sector by 5.7 per cent for the next two years, according to RT.
“Why should well-paid construction workers receive wage increases that are almost two times as high as in other industrial sectors or, for example, in female-dominated lower-wage sectors,” asks Kari.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi