Finnish ports on strike

Freight traffic workers at Finnish ports have been on strike since Monday. The protest against labour market reforms planned by the conservative government threatens to cripple Finnish foreign trade. The reform proposals envisage various restrictions on labour rights, including the right to strike. There are voices for and against the action in the press.

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Etelä-Suomen Sanoma (FI) /

Reforms direly needed

Etelä-Suomen Sanomat considers labour market reforms necessary:

“Opinions differ on how the reforms will affect the labour market. According to the trade union movement, the government and employers have always been intent on reducing the incomes of wage earners and the most vulnerable and weakening their rights. Meanwhile the government takes the view that the trade union movement and the left-wing opposition won't accept the election result and the government programme based on that result. Finland's economy, productivity and competitiveness has been significantly weaker than in other Nordic countries. Labour law reforms are needed to remedy this situation.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Hands off employees' rights

Aftonbladet warns Sweden not to think along the same lines:

“If the tone between the parties on the Finnish labour market has sometimes been harsh in the past, the government's intervention has now made the situation even worse. And this is exactly where Swedish lobbyists and employer representatives can learn something. ... If the Swedish government were to follow the Finnish example, the Swedish trade unions would be forced to go the same route as those in Finland. If something isn't broken, you shouldn't try to fix it. And politicians should not be allowed to trample on fundamental trade union rights.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

Don't put off negotiations any longer

Aamulehti hopes the strike will end soon:

“What is really worrying about the escalating conflict is that neither the government nor the bargaining parties seem to see a quick solution to the dispute. ... The stupidest thing about the dispute is that both the government and the labour unions know that they will eventually be forced to sit down at the same table. ... Compromise and agreement are what makes liberal democracies stronger than authoritarian states. It is to be hoped that the parties will not wait much longer to sit down at the negotiating table.”