A sign notifying shoppers of a temporary disruption in services at the bread section of a Prisma hypermarket in Vantaa on 1 February 2024. Service Union United (PAM) on Tuesday announced a three-day strike targeting the logistics and distribution centres of retailers such as Kesko and Lidl on 14–16 February. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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SERVICE UNION UNITED (PAM) on Tuesday announced it will organise a series of three-day strikes at the logistics centres of retail companies between 14 and 16 February.

The union revealed that the strikes will cover roughly 10,000 employees and target the logistics centres and regional terminal operations of Kesko, the distribution centres of Lidl and the logistics centre of Postnord in Turku, Southwest Finland.

Most of PAM’s 190,000 members are employed in the retail, restaurant and accommodation, real estate management and private security sectors.

The strikes are political in nature, representing the union’s opposition to the working-life reforms pursued by the government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP). Annika Rönni-Sällinen, the chairperson at PAM, viewed that the reforms would shift the balance of the labour market system increasingly in favour of employers.

The government has laid out plans to, for example, make the first day of sick leaves unpaid, restrict the duration of political strikes, make it easier for employers to lay off employees and expand local bargaining to non-organised workplaces.

PAM on Tuesday argued that the mooted expansion of local bargaining would hurt employees who are already in the weakest position. In the service sectors, it highlighted, many employees are young and of immigrant backgrounds, working alone is common and staff turnover rates are high.

“This inevitably raises the question, who there will agree on matters on behalf of others and how equal bargaining will be when weaker bargaining spread to companies that are completely outside the scope of union support and supervision,” commented Rönni-Sällinen.

“The idea that the government knows better than labour market parties what kind of local bargaining suits which sectors is very peculiar.”

The Finnish Industrial Union and Trade Union Pro have both also issued a warning of work stoppages taking place on 14–16 February. Covering more than 75,000 employees, the stoppages target a number of industries, including the chemicals, technology, and fashion and textiles industries.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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