Global union speaks out for Finnish workers

September 25, 2015

ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) leaders have joined to speak out in defence of Finnish workers and their trade unions, and the way they have championed the best of that country’s values worldwide.

Finland’s workers are currently under attack from a government trying to force through unprecedented development cuts, austerity measures and changes to sick leave, holiday entitlement and overtime.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “Finland’s workers and unions are the bedrock of that country’s economic success. The government’s plans are almost willfully at odds with that widely understood fact. Instead of celebrating inclusion and workplace democracy they undermine it. Thankfully the workforce is actively fighting back.”

“Ask workers in Africa, Latin America and Asia to name a Finnish export and for many of them the answer won’t be Nokia, it’ll be SASK, Finland’s trade union solidarity centre, which has upheld development and fought exploitation worldwide. Thanks to SASK, Finnish unions have become a byword for supporting education and development. Meanwhile for us in the ITF, they are equally famous for their campaigning in the maritime, road, rail and aviation sectors.”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: “The government’s plans are astonishingly short-sighted. The are nothing less than an attack on the very Finnish values that have successfully travelled the world.”

Cotton has raised the matter with Finnish prime minister. In a letter from him and ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) general secretary Eduardo Chagas, he states:

‘The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its European arm, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) are appalled that, shortly after implementation of severe austerity cuts and tax increases by the previous government, your government is planning to impose even further ‘structural’ measures which will deprive workers of their many hard won gains and rights.

The result of the austerity measures has been that the economic crisis has deepened even more. Finland has experienced negative growth for three consecutive years and the economy is still five percent less than what it was in 2007. The cuts have meant that the crisis in export industries has been combined with a stagnation of private consumption.

Even worse, some of the measures envisaged in your programme aiming at a complete overhaul of working time arrangements, collective bargaining systems violate the fundamental principles enshrined in ILO Conventions, ratified by Finland, notably on freedom of association and collective bargaining, and thus pose a threat to basic democratic rights.

The ITF calls for these measures that violates the above mentioned fundamental principles to be withdrawn and expresses its full solidarity with the people of Finland and Finnish unions, including transport unions protesting against them. Finnish workers, for instance Finnair cabin crew, have already made many important sacrifices to make their companies and country more competitive.

Reforms through curbing workers gains and rights will not enable Finland to return to economic growth, but will increase social and economic inequality further.’

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply