HELSINKI, March 1, 2010 (Press Release) -The Finnish Transport Workers' Union, AKT, which is affiliated to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, has turned down the proposal of conciliation offered by the Conciliator General. As a result, a strike affecting all road traffic in Finland is scheduled to begin on 2 March 2010 at 6pm. The strike action includes all major road transport companies carrying goods and passengers.
The strike will considerably disrupt the internal transport of goods, fuels, chemicals and coach passengers, as well as waste transportation. The strike also threatens fuel deliveries for airplanes. Travelling to work will be severely hampered, and the strike will also impact retail services within a few days.
"AKT has acted recklessly and irresponsibly. Other unions have demonstrated a spirit of social responsibility that recognises the economic situation in their negotiations. AKT turned down an offer that would have offered above-average wage increases compared with the general industrial policy. The weak economic situation affecting the road transport industry and the indirect significance of the industry's costs for the entire national economy made no impression on AKT's demands and attitudes," comments Eeva-Liisa Inkeroinen, a Director at EK.
The contractual wage increases for transport workers have totalled almost 16 percent over the past three years. This increase is considerably more than the industrial average in Finland.
The economic crisis has had a major impact on the road transport industry. In the second quarter of last year 25 percent less goods were transported than in the corresponding period in 2008. Labour costs account for 35 to 60 percent of total costs within the road transport industry depending on the sector.
The profitability of the trucking sector has weakened significantly in recent years, and the average net result of trucking companies has fluctuated around zero. Last year the number of workplaces in the trucking sector was reduced by 1500, and the number of bankruptcies doubled. The number of passengers carried by bus companies has also fallen sharply, and most routes are running at a loss.
-AKT's exaggerated wage increases would further impact the employment outlook of the industry and increase costs for other industrial branches amidst the current economic crisis. These unreasonable demands are being pursued by means of a strike that will cause major disruptions for companies and citizens alike at a time when attention should be focused on strengthening the conditions for economic recovery, Inkeroinen says.
-AKT's attitude does not bode well for the ongoing conciliation negotiations with ports It seems that the union is ready to halt all transports and foreign trade in order to promote their unreasonable demands.