The strike of export sectors will be extended to last three weeks. The political strike opposes the Government's anti-employee policy and insane social security cuts. Photo: JHL


In a bold move that marks a significant escalation in labor disputes, Finland's trade union JHL has announced the extension of the ongoing export sector strike by an additional week, bringing the total duration to three weeks. The strike, which originally commenced on March 11, is a protest against what the unions describe as the Finnish government's anti-employee policies and drastic social security cuts. This industrial action, now set to continue until March 31, effectively halts the nation's exports, showcasing the depth of the workers' discontent.

The extension follows unsuccessful discussions between SAK President Jarkko Eloranta and Finland's Minister of Employment, Arto Satonen, from the National Coalition Party. The government's refusal to compromise on labor market issues has propelled the unions to prolong their protest in defense of both employed and unemployed citizens. JHL President Håkan Ekström criticized the government's stance, accusing it of aligning too closely with business interests at the expense of workers' rights and social security, potentially exacerbating poverty levels in Finland.

This strike sees about a thousand members from the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) alongside members from other unions affiliated with the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) actively participating. Key sectors affected include rail freight transport and several major ports across Finland, though certain essential services are exempt to avoid endangering lives or the country's supply security.

JHL's action, supported financially by the union for its striking members, targets specific policies proposed by the Finnish government. These include cuts to housing allowances and unemployment security that disproportionately impact low-income individuals and youths, as well as proposed limitations on the right to strike and the undermining of collective agreements' general applicability. Moreover, a controversial export model for pay, seen as detrimental to low-paid, female-dominated sectors, has also been cited as a point of contention.

Ekström expresses concern over the stagnation of negotiations on the pay model, attributing it to the government's apparent priority of employer interests over workers' rights. He warns of the long-term consequences these government measures might have on future collective bargaining and labor market stability.

The union's demand is clear: they call for the government to engage in genuine negotiations and make meaningful compromises, rather than imposing decisions unilaterally. As the strike enters its extended phase, the impact on Finland's export capabilities and broader labor market relations looms large, signaling a critical juncture for both the government and the unions involved.