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News > Finland

Finnish Workers Carry Out Strikes in Defense of Their Rights

  • Citizens protesting in Helsinki, Finland, Feb.1, 2024.

    Citizens protesting in Helsinki, Finland, Feb.1, 2024. | Photo: X/ @SuominenJyrki

Published 1 February 2024

Parliament could approve reforms that limit social security and other rights acquired by workers.

On Thursday, major strikes by employee unions against the Finnish government's plans to amend labor laws and curtail social security brought Finland to a near standstill.


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Nearly all flights by the national airline Finnair were canceled until Saturday morning, while national railroads and most bus services remained closed on Friday.

Meanwhile, postal workers went on strike on both days, and unions closed major forest industry plants. However, shops and restaurants remained partially open.

A major demonstration took place at Helsinki's Senate Square, opposite the government building. According to police estimates, around 13,000 protesters attended. Previously, on Wednesday, the strike began to affect kindergartens.

The reforms that have sparked the protests were announced in the program of the four-party coalition of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in June 2023, and have partially progressed to parliament.

Under the reforms, salary increases would be limited to the level of the export industries, unemployment benefits would be tightened, and the unions' right to arrange sympathy strikes would be curtailed.

The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) said some 300,000 workers are currently on strike. Chairman Jarkko Eloranta said the government has made itself a labor market counterpart, as it is pursuing the long-time goals of Finnish employers.

Labor Minister Arto Satonen said the cabinet is not willing to backtrack on its intentions. The government has also maintained that the reforms have a parliamentary majority that reflects the May 2023 election outcome.

Nevertheless, unions have responded that voters did not know about the labor reforms as they were not announced during the campaigns, only surfacing during cabinet program talks. Labor action is set to continue next week with walkouts by hospital staff and medical doctors.


Petteri Orpo
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