On Monday, October 22, the largest trade union in Finland – JHL – launched a two-day political strike against the right-wing government’s proposal to make it easier to sack workers in companies with 10 or fewer employees.
Ten thousand members of the union participated. It is the second political strike conducted by the Finnish unions against this proposal. The first was two weeks ago and more strikes are planned. Next week, both the Industrial Workers’ Union and Pro – which organises forestry and sawmill workers – will go out for a three day strike against the government’s attack.
For weeks, several trade unions have protested against the proposal with overtime blockades and a ban on changes in work shifts. On Friday, October 19, the industrial workers’ union also abandoned the so-called “competition agreement”, which extends the annual working time by 24 hours, to put further pressure on the government.
The government’s proposal states that the number of workers should determine the level of employment protection. It is also clear that the government, headed by the Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party and the right-wing populist Blue Future (a split from the True Finns), sees the proposal as a foundation stone in their neo-liberal change of the labour market system.
At the outset, the government’s proposal concerned all companies with up to 20 employees, but just before the first political strike, the government reduced it to 10, in the hope that it would reduce the workers’ anger.
That has not happened. There is a clear majority against the recent attacks, which the trade unions called “the final straw”. The purpose of the proposal is to create greater insecurity and to make workplaces quieter.
No room for compromises
There is no room for compromises. The government must be forced to withdraw its proposal immediately and unconditionally. The trade unions must reject any attempt to make local agreements, which the government also hinted at. Let this struggle be the beginning of a broad mobilisation to force the government out and start preparing for a one-day political strike.
The mass opposition has put pressure on the government. As a reply, the government requested a vote of confidence in parliament last week. It was done with the knowledge that in the vote on 17 October the Riksdag will express its continued support. But outside the Riksdag, the support for the government and its parties is collapsing. Particularly among workers, the government parties are losing support.
” Left winds are blowing, according to the opinion polls: the Social Democrats are the biggest party and support for the Left League continues to increase,” as the Finnish public service news company YLE summed it up.
Since the election of 2015, the Social Democrats and Left League have increased their support by 8.8 percentage points. This is compared with the elections in 2015 when the Social Democrats came only fourth. The dissatisfaction with the government has offered a temporary break in the ‘Pasokification’ of the Finnish Social Democrats – Pasokification’ of the Finnish Social Democrats – a massive collapse of support for social democratic parties because of their right-wing policies.
The Left League now has almost 10 percent support with the chance of growing even more if the party drops its coalitionism and the habit of limiting itself within the framework of capitalism.
Socialist Vaihtoehto (CWI in Finland) says:
– Full support for JHL’s political strike! Step up the fight against government attacks!
– Prepare for a one-day political general strike as part of an organised mass campaign to stop the right-wing attacks and to force the government out.
– For a new workers’ party with a clear socialist programme.