BUS SERVICES in Finland’s largest cities are set to come to a grinding halt due to a driver strike taking place between 3am on Wednesday, 1 March, and Friday, 10 March.
The Finnish Transport Workers’ Union (AKT) has indicated that the strike would have an impact particularly on commuter bus services but not so much on intercity coach services, even though it would also apply to Onnibus and Koiviston Auto.
AKT and the Employers’ Federation of Road Transport (ALT) on Monday failed to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions of bus drivers. The two labour market organisations will re-convene in an attempt to settle their differences on Tuesday, according to National Conciliator Anu Pajavaara.
Harri Pasanen, the director of advocacy at AKT, viewed yesterday while the negotiations were still ongoing that the strike is “fairly likely” to start although experience has shown that even major differences can be hashed out relatively quickly.
“We still have today and tomorrow to go,” he commented to YLE.
Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has estimated that the strike would affect services on more than 90 per cent of its bus routes. Nobina, one of the largest service providers for HSL, has gauged that it might be able to provide no more than a quarter of its usual services during the strike, according to the Finnish public broadcasting company.
“The impact will definitely be great. Most of the buses won’t be moving,” said Mårten Winqvist, a regional manager at Nobina.
The effects of the strike have been estimated as significant also in Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Oulu, Tampere and Turku. In Tampere, for example, it is expected to bring around half of bus services to a grinding halt.
Commuters in Helsinki and Tampere have been advised to consult the digital route planner for the most reliable and up-to-date information on the availability of services
“It’s impossible to make predictions in advance about what services will be available. The most reliable information will be found in the route planner,” Sari Kotikangas, a communication specialist at HSL, stated to YLE on Monday.
Metro, tram and train drivers are set to join the strike on Monday, 6 March. The strike could therefore disrupt rail services across the country, including commuter rail services in the capital region.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT