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FINLAND: "Record low number of labour disputes in 2016" by Heikki Jokinen)

Curry Erna

"There were only 69 labour disputes in Finland in 2016, Statistics Finland reports. The number of lost working days was 6,584. To find similar figures in Finland one has to go back to the 1960's. In 2015, the figures were much higher: 163 labour disputes with 108,911 working days lost. In 2016, in 36 per cent of the disputes, the reason was employers’ plans to cut staff or the threat of redundancies. This often led to protest action by employees, like walkouts, to express concern over employer plans."

 Other common reasons concerned issues with management (in 29 per cent of disputes) and problems with collective bargaining (in 14 per cent of disputes).

Almost half (42 per cent) of the disputes last year took place in the manufacturing industries, and 32 per cent in transport and storage.

The number of employees taking part in some kind of labour dispute in 2016 was 7,287.

The highest figure in the 2000s is from the year 2005. Then the disputes in the paper industry resulted in a total of 672,904 working days lost.

The statistics on labour disputes describe the labour disputes organised in Finland by employees or employers. They also included strike threats in their report, even if they did not come to pass.

The National Conciliator also revealed that her Office recorded only one threat of a work stoppage in 2016, and even that threat was settled before the work stoppage was due to start.

"One reason for the low figures is that last year the majority of collective agreements were concluded in accordance with the Competitiveness Pact negotiated by the labour market confederations. In most cases the existing agreements were continued with small modifications.

The next negotiation round in the labour market in Autumn 2017 will be implemented by union level agreements. This might mean a growing number of industrial actions and strikes.

Political strikes, common in the 1970's, have not disappeared entirely. In April this year some 1,500 metal and industrial workers in the Tampere region stopped work for 24 hours as a protest against the Government’s labour policy.

The action affected 14 companies and was organised by five local chapters of the Metal Workers' Union and the Industrial Union TEAM. The Unions were not involved in this action."