Shipping containers in Vuosaari Harbour in Helsinki on 11 March 2024. A YLE survey reveals that the political strikes that have, among other things, halted cargo handling at ports continue to have the support of most Finns. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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THE MAJORITY of Finns continue to approve of the political strikes organised by members of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), indicates a survey commissioned by YLE.

YLE on Saturday reported that 51 per cent of the survey respondents stated that they approve of the strikes organised in protest of the labour market reforms and social security cuts pursued by the government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP).

More than four in ten (41%) of respondents said they disapprove of the strikes. Eight per cent declined to comment.

“Union members form the biggest supporter group for the strikes. If you examine the political map, the Social Democrats and Left Alliance’s supporters are behind the strikes by an overwhelming majority,” Jari Pajunen, the managing director of Taloustutkimus, commented to the public broadcasting company on Saturday.

The survey also found that support for the strikes is higher among women (54%) than men (48%) and young people than old people.

“There isn’t much sympathy for the strikes among pensioners,” analysed Pajunen.

Public support declining slightly, however.

In February, 58 per cent of the public were reported to support the strikes, but the figure has since been revised down to 53 per cent. Pajunen told YLE that Taloustutkimus revised the results after discovering that left-leaning voters were clearly overrepresented in the sample and adding party affiliation as a criterion – alongside age, gender and place of residence – for weighting results on any politicised issue.

Public support for the strikes, he analysed, appears to be waning as the strikes are starting to stir up concerns related to day-to-day life, including about fuel shortages at service stations. In addition to the survey conducted for YLE, the Central Organisation for Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) recently published a survey showing that support for the strikes has fallen by 10 percentage points since December.

Organised in protest of government proposals to, for example, restrict political strikes, expand local bargaining and stagger earnings-related unemployment benefits, the strikes have halted cargo handling at ports, disrupted rail freight services and complicated industrial processes for over two weeks.

Although they have been extended by a week until the end of the month, the government has shown no willingness to re-consider its proposals – to the disappointment of most Finns, according to the survey by YLE.

Almost six in ten (59%) of respondents said they are disappointed or very disappointed with the way the government has handled the situation, representing a one-point increase from February. Over one-third (35%) of respondents contrastively said they are pleased or very pleased with how the situation has been handled.

“There’s more opposition than understanding,” Pajunen summarised on Saturday.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,098 people for the survey on 19–20 March. The results have a margin of error of three points.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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