Juha Mutru (left), the chief executive of the Finnish Port Operators’ Association, and Ismo Kokko, the chairperson of the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), shook hands as the two labour market organisations resumed talks about a new collective bargaining agreement at the office of the national conciliator in Helsinki on Friday, 17 February 2023. AKT on Sunday said it has rejected the terms proposed by National Conciliator Leo Suomaa (not pictured). (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


STRIKES in ports and road transport are set to continue in Finland.

The Finnish Transport Workers’ Union (AKT) on Sunday rejected National Conciliator Leo Suomaa’s proposal for a new two-year collective bargaining agreement for stevedores, arguing that the proposal offered pay rises that fall short of those in manufacturing industries and failed to address any other terms and conditions of employment.

“The proposal had been stripped of all textual terms. AKT’s goal remains to reach a settlement as soon as possible,” commented Ismo Kokko, the chairperson at AKT.

Juha Mutru, the chief executive of the Finnish Port Operators’ Association, on Sunday confirmed that the settlement proposal only addressed the question of pay rises, indicating that employers are unlikely to approve larger raises.

“This was purely a pay proposal, and it was stretched to the maximum,” he said to YLE. “Pay rises of around six per cent have been common, and that’s the level this was tuned to.”

AKT on Wednesday launched a series of strikes in ports and three segments of road transport – lorries, tankers and oil products – in an attempt to secure pay rises that prevent the erosion of real wages.

The stevedore strike alone has effectively halted all foreign goods trade.

The strikes have had an impact on several other sectors of society, too, according to YLE. The Finnish public broadcasting company reported during the course of last week that the transport sector strikes can have an impact on can and bottle recycling machines, the transfer of media between libraries, the availability of petrol at service station, waste management services, and raw material availability at manufacturing sites.

Niina Kostiander, the head of communications at Outokumpu, on Thursday said the strike has yet to have an “immediate impact” on the operations of the steel maker’s steel mill in Tornio, Western Lapland. The strike prolonging, though, could disrupt both raw material availability and product deliveries to clients.

“We’ll naturally try to minimise all possible effects on deliveries and production,” she commented to YLE.

A similar message was sent by Metsä Group. “Metsä Group’s factories are in operation for the time being, but if the strike drags on their operations will be in jeopardy,” said Juha Laine, the head of communications at the Finnish forestry conglomerate.

The Finnish Post and Logistics Union (PAU), meanwhile, has staged a sympathy strike that will delay letter deliveries by one to two weeks and parcel deliveries by five to seven days due to a temporary backlog at the logistics centre of Posti.

“This has a very similar effect in all parts of the country,” said Jarmo Ainasoja, the head of exception management at Posti.

Unless a breakthrough is achieved in the collective bargaining talks, AKT is set to launch another series of strikes on 1 March.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT