Finnish logistics strikes begin as negotiations fail to bear fruit
Strike warnings in Finland raises concerns as more dates are announced
Industrial action across the Finnish logistics sector began last Wednesday after last-minute negotiations between unions and employer associations on a new collective agreement failed to resolve the dispute.
Stevedores at Finnish ports officially went on strike February 15 at 6:00 AM until further notice, according to the Finnish Transport Union (AKT). Terminal operators also walked off the job at 6:00 AM the same day, with their action to continue until midnight, February 21. Workers in the trucking, tanker and oil products industries went on strike as of 12:00 AM February 15 and will remain off the job until 6:00 AM on February 22. The strike affects some 9,000 workers, according to the union.
The AKT said that negotiations with employer organizations went down to the wire Tuesday, and that a mediator presented settlement proposals to representatives from the various logistics sectors but that the offers were rejected as “completely inadequate.”
The union added that the goal remains to reach an agreement that improves wage levels and corrects for losses in purchasing power, so that real wages do not fall. Key issues regarding working conditions also must still be resolved. It was not immediately clear when new talks would start.
The AKT has also issued new strike warnings from March 1.
For the terminal operator sector, a new strike will begin at 6:00 AM on March 1 if no agreement is reached before then, and run until 6:00 AM March 8, while trucking sector workers will walk off the job again on March 1 at 3:00 AM until March 8 at 3:00 AM.
The Finnish Port Operators Association described the strike as “irresponsible,” and said that the damage from the action would “be considerable, as the stoppage of the ports’ operations will affect the entire national economy.” The association added: “If the strike continues, factories in the paper, assembly and steel industries face the threat of shutdowns.” Some 90% of Finland’s foreign trade is carried out via its ports, the association pointed out.
In a note to clients, UPM acknowledged that the strikes would impact its ability to deliver pulp produced at its mills, but said that in order to mitigate any possible impacts, it had increased storage capacity outside the ports and raised inventory levels outside Finland. The firm noted that its deliveries of eucalyptus pulp from its mill in Uruguay were not impacted by the strikes.
The AKT and employer unions have been negotiating a new collective agreement since December. The last agreement expired on January 31.
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