Photo: Chris-Tomas Konieczny JHL

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A two-day strike organized by the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL is set to disrupt early childhood education and care services across the Helsinki Metropolitan Region. The strike, scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, and Thursday, February 1, 2024, will involve all public and private day care centers in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen.

This extensive political strike, supported by members of various trade unions, will apply to work shifts beginning between 5:59 am on January 31 and 8:59 pm on February 1.

The impact of this strike is expected to be substantial, as it encompasses the entire duration of the ending shift on February 1.

The crux of the issue prompting the strike is the Government's proposal for an export-led pay model, which, according to JHL, could lead to continued low salaries in the early childhood education and care sector. JHL's Interim President, Håkan Ekström, emphasizes the crucial role of early childhood educators and care professionals, pointing out the existing labor shortage in the sector and the potential exacerbation if competent employees remain difficult to find due to unattractive pay.

"I understand the challenges this strike poses to families with children," Ekström says, "but we hope this action brings to the Government's attention the indispensable nature of early childhood professionals. The proposed pay model could leave day care center employees at a significant disadvantage, and we must consider the long-term impacts on the availability of skilled staff in this field."

JHL has been engaging in political strikes since the autumn of 2023, progressively expanding their scope. The union has expressed its readiness to continue with such measures should the Government decline to negotiate on labor market reforms.

"Our primary responsibility is to protect our members' employment terms and working conditions. The Government's plans threaten to severely disrupt the Finnish labor market. It's our duty to take action, and unfortunately, in this case, it means resorting to a substantial strike," adds Ekström.

Families in the Helsinki Metropolitan Region are advised to prepare for the two-day closure of day care facilities and seek alternative arrangements for their children's care during this period. This strike highlights the ongoing tensions in the Finnish labor market, particularly in sectors crucial to daily life and welfare.

HT

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