Finnish Unions Launch Protest Campaign Against Government’s Economic Policies
The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has announced a three-week campaign in protest of the government’s proposed economic policies. The campaign, which will include strikes, marches, and demonstrations, is being organized by The Industrial Union, Trade Union Pro, and the Electrical Workers’ Union. Several workplaces, including the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, are expected to be affected by these actions.
The government’s proposed changes that have sparked this protest include the planned cancellation of work-based residence permits after three months of unemployment. The other contentious issues include the reduction of earnings-related unemployment benefits, the removal of child supplements for job-seekers, and restrictions on the right to strike.
Changes in Employment Terms
Under the proposed changes, employers would have the right to offer fixed-term contracts without justifying the reasons. The new rules would also make it easier for employers to terminate workers. Additionally, the first day of sick leave would become unpaid unless otherwise stated in the employment contract or collective agreement.
The proposed changes would also affect earnings-related unemployment benefits, which would be staggered. After two months of unemployment, the benefits would fall to 80% of the original level and would further drop to 75% after eight months. The government also plans to remove the child supplements currently given to unemployed individuals, which range from 150 to 285 euros per month depending on the number of children under 18.
The proposed changes also include new rules for work-based residence permits. Permit holders would be required to find a new job within three months of termination, or their permit would expire. Employers failing to inform the immigration authority of any changes in the employment status of permit holders would face penalties.
Restrictions on the Right to Strike
The right to strike would also be curtailed under the new rules. Protests would be limited to 24 hours, and lawful sympathy strikes would only be permitted if they affected the parties involved in the labor dispute. Workers participating in an illegal strike could face a 200-euro penalty.
The unions are protesting against proposed government policies that they believe will weaken worker protections, reduce benefits for the unemployed, and restrict the right to strike. The three-week campaign of industrial action is intended to draw attention to these issues and put pressure on the government to reconsider its plans.
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