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Finnish unions to shut down air travel for two days

Finnish labour unions on Friday announced they would shut down commercial air traffic for the first two days of February, adding to growing plans for strikes protesting government proposed labour market reforms. The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL), which has some 165,000 members, said in a statement that it together with other unions “will stop Finland’s commercial air traffic” on February 1-2. Not due to a dispute with employers, the strike is instead launched as a form of protest against the government’s proposed labour market reform. “The strike is a political industrial action, and it is not targeted against employers,” the union’s Interim president Hakan Ekstrom said in a statement. Conservative Petteri Orpo’s coalition government, which came to power in 2023, has argued that the Finnish labour market needs to be reformed. According to the government, its aim “is to promote the creation of an export-driven labour market model,” as it wants to “boost Finland’s long-term competitiveness.” It has highlighted changes to Finnish rules for collective bargaining negotiations and has said it would “explore ways to prevent industrial action.” On Tuesday, the government announced it would appoint a working group to prepare “legislative amendments.” Earlier in the week, Finland’s Industrial Union and the service workers’ union PAM also announced large strikes — targeting industry, retail as well as restaurants and hotels — for the start of February. Finnish media also reported that more unions were to announce actions next week. According to public broadcaster YLE, schools, daycare and healthcare could also be affected by strikes.

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