The Left Alliance’s Jussi Saramo and Li Andersson spoke to reporters in the Parliament House on Thursday, 15 September 2022. On Monday, several members of the left-wing party broke the government line by voting against a controversial bill to limit the right of nurses to resort to industrial action. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH PARLIAMENT on Monday passed a government bill for a new patient safety act by a vote of 109 for and 38 against, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The highly controversial act enables regional state administrative agencies to order nurses to perform certain essential duties during industrial action and to impose a one-week moratorium or suspension on an industrial action up to four times.

Members of the five ruling parties backed the bill by a vote of 80 for and 5 against, with the nay votes coming from Katja Hänninen, Anna Kontula, Markus Mustajärvi, Jari Myllykoski and Suldaan Said Ahmed of the Left Alliance. The other seven members of the left-wing party who were present for the vote backed the bill, aligning with other present ruling-party lawmakers.

The National Coalition was the only opposition to support the bill, doing so unanimously. The Christian Democrats and Finns Party contrastively voted unanimously to reject the bill.

More than a quarter (51) of lawmakers, including 31 members of the five ruling parties, were absent from the vote. Four of the absentees were members of the Left Alliance.

Jussi Saramo, the chairperson of the Left Alliance Parliamentary Group, on Monday voiced his hope that the left-wing party can remain part of the ruling coalition despite several of its members breaking the party line on the issue.

“I would’ve of course hoped that everyone could’ve stood behind the compromise,” he admitted to journalists in the reception room of the Parliament House on Monday. “This is how it turned out and we’ll now hat to talk to the other groups about how to move on from this.”

Saramo said he hopes that outcome of the vote does not have an impact on coalition co-operation, “at least any more than it has to”.

“We’ve had excellent co-operation within the government, and I hope that can continue,” he stated. “This got so much off the rails right from the start. The vast majority of our group had indicated throughout the process that they want to continue coalition co-operation. We’re now working to achieve that.”

Saramo refused to speculate on whether the group will levy some kind of sanctions against the members who broke the party line.

“No party or representative had any special permits in this case. It was ultimately a normal government proposal. We’ll have to review this together,” he retorted.

Millariikka Rytkönen, the chairperson of the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland (Tehy), on Monday stated that she is sad, angry and disappointed with the decision to pass the patient safety act.

“It feels like the central administration does not comprehend all the consequences,” she wrote in a press release. “Nurses will not forget. Some have already voted with their feet, and it may be hard to put a stop to that development even if a wage agreement that is satisfactory to nurses is reached later.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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