Motorists and vehicles at a service station in Friisilä, Espoo, on 5 March 2024. Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday reported that the ongoing political strikes have resulted in fuel shortages at individual service stations in Helsinki. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY Supply Agency (HVK) and the Finnish Industrial Union will today continue discussions about measures to guarantee the availability of diesel and petrol amid the ongoing political strikes, Janne Känkänen, the CEO of HVK, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

The agency, he added, is calling especially for measures to guarantee what it considers critical deliveries, such as food deliveries to grocery shops.

“Safeguarding critical deliveries is the priority for us. That means official operations and critical logistics in the corporate side, the most important example being food deliveries to shops,” said Känkänen.

The Finnish Industrial Union is one of several trade unions involved in strikes organised in protest of government proposals on labour market reforms and social security cuts. The strikes have halted the handling of goods at ports, disrupted rail freight services and complicated industrial processes since 11 March. Following a one-week extension announced by the participating unions, they are scheduled to end on 31 March.

HVK has pleaded with unions to rule fuel deliveries outside the scope of the strike. Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday reported that individual service stations are already experiencing diesel and petrol shortages.

Känkänen on Sunday stated to the newspaper that although there are no immediate concerns about a fuel shortage, the agency has taken a proactive stance because the risks will increase as the strike continues.

“A lot will depend on whether the strikes will continue after the third week,” he said.

The Finnish Industrial Union announced earlier that fuel deliveries to airports will resume on Monday. Chairperson Riku Aalto said to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday that the union has asked for clarifications from HVK.

“We’ll get back to it tomorrow,” he added.

Members of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), including the Industrial Union, have yet to reveal whether they are willing to extend the strikes beyond this week. Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (SAK) sat down with representatives of the central organisation last week, but the meeting failed to result in genuine discussions about details of government proposal on local bargaining.

Satonen on Friday said he has asked Katariina Murto of the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ) and Millariikka Rytkönen of the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland (Tehy) to look into the conditions for initiating negotiations about an export-driven system of wage formation.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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