Finns Party minister accuses unions of “propaganda” as political strikes continue

As the latest wave of political strikes enters its fifth and final day on Friday, the unions behind the walkouts have stated that they will not back down until the government relents on its plans to reform labour market legislation and introduce a number of social security cuts.

However, Minister of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman (Finns) told Yle TV1’s A-Talk show on Thursday evening that the government will not bend to union pressure.

“These political strikes, orchestrated by the lords of the trade unions and backed up by their propaganda, are making Finland less attractive as an investment destination,” Rydman said.

Riku Aalto, chair of the Industrial Union, was also a guest on A-Talk and responded to Rydman’s comments during the debate.

“I resent the accusation that our 1.8 million members are considered so stupid that they can be controlled by one union boss. They know what these cuts mean and they are genuinely concerned,” Aalto said.

Left Alliance leader Li Andersson, also a guest on Thursday evening’s show, said she believes that the responsibility for resolving the dispute lies with the current government.

“Contrary to what the government programme claims, no other Nordic country has weakened workers’ rights to the same extent. This government has deliberately chosen a path of conflict,” Andersson said.

Unions call on government to reverse plans

This week’s walkouts have affected public transport, childcare services and energy supplies, among other sectors.

The unions involved are calling on the government to reverse its plans to make changes to Finland’s working life legislation as well as cuts to social security benefits.

On its website, the JHL union — which represents public and welfare sector workers — lists the reasons for calling on workers to walk off their jobs.

“The [Petteri] Orpo government wants to change the first sick day into an unpaid one and make it easier to fire a person and make use of fixed-term employment relationships. The government is also intending to abolish change negotiations in workplaces with fewer than 50 employees,” the statement reads, adding that the government’s plans will deal “heavy blows” to public services.

“Wellbeing services counties are facing savings worth billions. They endanger the social welfare and health care services of Finns, as well as the operations of the rescue sector,” the union states.

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