Strikes in Finland could cost the economy nearly €1bn, warns business lobby

According to Jyri Häkämies, Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), the impact of political strikes on Finland’s gross domestic product will rise to almost one billion euros if political strikes planned for next week go ahead as planned. Häkämies was interviewed on commercial TV broadcaster MTV on Saturday.

“We’re really facing losses. We have three days of strikes behind us with losses of almost half a billion euros. If next week’s wave of strikes materialises like the previous ones did, we’ll face a bill of nearly a billion in losses for Finland’s gross domestic product,” said Häkämies.

Trade unions have been staging a series of walkouts since last autumn to protest the right-wing government’s plans to weaken the status of employees and the social security safety net. In late January, there were widespread job actions across an array of sectors.

Häkämies, on the other hand, urged the government to accelerate its controversial labour-market reforms and called on unions to halt the political strikes.

“Political strikes of the same scale would not be possible in Sweden,” he pointed out.

In order to speed up economic growth, the EK proposes temporary corporate tax reductions for companies making investments in the green transition, for example.

Train strike starts on Monday

Next week’s strikes begin on Monday, when, for example, nearly all local and long-distance trains will stand still. Some food workers will also walk off the job beginning on Monday. From Tuesday on, the job actions will spread to include daycare centres, heavy industry and energy production, for instance.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s National Coalition Party has traditionally had close ties with the EK. The business group gave the largest shares of its campaign donations to NCP candidates in the current presidential election and last year’s parliamentary election, which the NCP won.

In Sunday’s presidential election, NCP candidate Alexander Stubb faces Pekka Haavisto (Green), who is running as an independent.

Häkämies, 62, was a National Coalition Party MP from 1999 to 2012. He was Minister of Defence and state ownership steering from 2007 until 2011,when he became Minister of Economic Affairs. In November 2012 he left that post to immediately become director of the EK.

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