A Koiviston Auto bus was being refilled at a depot in Ilmala, Helsinki, on 13 March 2024. Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reported that there is again a possibility that fuel deliveries are disrupted by the ongoing political strikes in a way that affects public transport services in the capital region. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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THE POLITICAL STRIKES that are now well into their third week could disrupt bus services in the capital region of Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Neste on Friday issued yet another warning to bus operators that the continuing strikes could disrupt the availability of diesel as soon as in the coming days. With around 60 per cent of buses in the region running on diesel, the newspaper reminded, the disruption could have a broad-based impact on public transport services.

“There’s fuel for the time being, and there have been deliveries to depots. We definitely have fuel for today and tomorrow,” Mika Häyrynen, the head of procurement at Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), assured to Helsingin Sanomat on Monday.

“If there are no supplementary deliveries, we’ll start having problems on Wednesday.”

Häyrynen added that the joint municipal authority would likely cancel buses on routes that run along metro or train tracks – given the relative ease at which passengers could switch from roads to rails – but seek to operate, for example, buses that primarily service schools in the outer parts of its service area, such as Kirkkonummi, Sipoo and Tuusula.

Fuel ran out from some service stations in the capital region last weekend, according to Helsingin Sanomat. Häyrynen revealed that it created challenges for operators that use commercial service stations to refuel their buses, but so far no services have been cancelled.

Mårten Winqvist, a regional director at Nobina, told Helsingin Sanomat that so far fuel has been available as usual. One of the largest bus operators in the capital region, the company refuels its buses partly at its own depots and partly at commercial stations.

“We’re monitoring the situation. If the strikes go on even longer, fuel availability could become more problematic. We don’t have any extra tanks,” he said tot he newspaper.

Organised in protest of a series of labour market reforms and social security cuts by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), the strikes are presently set to end on Sunday, 31 March. They have halted the handling of goods at ports, disrupted rail freight services and complicated industrial processes since 11 March.

Although none of the participating unions has announced its readiness to extend the strikes further, industrial actions against the government proposals could continue in one form or another given that neither side has shown a willingness to make major compromises.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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