A train at an empty platform at Helsinki Central on Monday, 20 March 2023. If approved by labour market organisations, an agreement brokered by the national conciliator could put an end to the locomotive drivers’ strike that has disrupted rail services across Finland since Monday. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)


THE NATIONAL CONCILIATOR has brokered a provisional agreement in the labour dispute over the terms and conditions of employment of locomotive drivers.

YLE on Wednesday reported that the agreement will be considered later today by the boards of directors of the two labour market organisations embroiled in the dispute, Railway Union Finland (RAU) and Service Sector Employers (Palta).

If it is approved by both boards, it would mark the end of the strike that has halted the vast majority of rail services – including all commuter and long-distance passenger services – in Finland since Monday, 20 March.

VR, the Finnish state-owned railway company, will not operate any trains today regardless of the verdict. YLE wrote that a company spokesperson estimated that it will take roughly 24 hours to normalise rail services if the provisional agreement is approved, with the first trains resuming operation on Friday morning.

Attempts to resolve the labour dispute began in February. Both sides have described the negotiations as difficult.

Not only has the trade union has rejected two proposals submitted by the national conciliator, but its representative body also shot down the compromise reached at the end of last week by the negotiating councils of the two labour market organisations. It has identified occupational well-being as the main bone of contention in the talks, calling for, among other things, the lengthening of the weekly rest period of drivers.

Palta has estimated that the demands would exceed the so-called general line that, employer organisations insist, is determined by the collective bargaining deals reached in key export industries.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT