Local government strike closes schools, daycare centres, museums, public libraries

varhaiskasvatus, nainen pukee lapselle ulkovaatteita

More than 80,000 local government employees strike in ten major Finnish cities 3 – 9 May. In Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, Vantaa, Jyväskylä, Turku, Rovaniemi, Kuopio, Oulu and Tampere, schools, daycare centres, museums, public libraries and many other public services shut down for several days.

The strike began after negotiations for a new collective agreement for 425,000 municipal employees failed. Several other, smaller collective agreements for the municipal sector are still to be hammered out, too.

The unions are worried about the competitiveness of the public sector. Right now, in many municipal workplaces it is extremely difficult to recruit new people. The salaries are not as high as in the private sector and the workload is often very heavy.

For this reason, the unions demand a special pay programme for the municipal sector in order to make the pay level more competitive.

One of the unions on strike is JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors. The union demands extra pay on top of the normal pay rise at least for those working in daycare, schools and in the social and health care sector.

This extra pay should be raised by even up to 4.7 per cent per year for several years, says JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine. To finance this, support from the state budget is needed. In the collective agreement, JHL demands at least a 2 per cent pay rise.

In her First of May speech in Hämeenlinna, Niemi-Laine said recent turbulence in the labour market has made it easier to recruit new members for the unions. During this spring, 6,800 people have joined JHL, she said.

Other organisations on strike are JUKO, the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals and the Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees Jyty.

Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super – the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses called off their planned strike of 40,000 nurses in the middle of April.

And the reason behind this was the Government plan to stipulate a new Patient Safety Act should nurses strike. This would have rendered the strike ineffective as the nurses could have been, at least partly, ordered to work by law.

Tehy and Super stress that it has never been their intention to strike for the sake of striking, they seek a solution to the industrial dispute. To begin a strike that has no effect, does not serve this goal.

Helsinki 03.05.2020 – Heikki Jokinen

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