30,000 Metal Workers Strike in Finland over Pay

Oct. 21, 2011
The strike will affected more than 40 companies across the country.

Following a dispute over wages and conditions, some 30,000 metal and technology workers walked off the job in Finland on October 21, the Finnish Metal Workers Union said.

"The reason for the strike is a disagreement between the employers side and the union over the structure of wage increases. The unions want every wage earner to have the same percentage of wage increase. The employers structured them differently," union spokesman said.

The strike began at 6:00 am and affected more than 40 companies across the country, after the union rejected a mediation proposal presented by a national conciliator.

Shutdowns of machinery had already started at some 10 companies earlier on Oct. 20.

Negotiations were expected to resume in a few days, and the union warned the dispute could drag on if its demands were not met.

The strike halted operations at Finland's biggest metal export companies, including Rautaruukki, elevator and escalator company Kone and engineering company Metso.

Employees and agents of defense and aviation group Patria and the engineering company Waertsilae were also on strike.

"We have calculated that our companies and their subcontractors will lose about 1.0 to 1.5 billion euros in turnover," said Jukka Palokangas, chief economist, Federation of Finnish Technology Industry.

He noted that with the global economic crisis, demand was already waning. "In this kind of situation such a strike does harm to our companies because the competition is now tougher and will be even tougher in the future."

According to Palokangas the technology industry has since 2008 already lost 40,000 employees due to a structural change which is continuing. "Now comes this strike. That is a challenge."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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