Sympathy strikes in Finland could affect flights, ferries

Employees participating in the nationwide postal strike in Tampere, Finland.
Employees participating in the nationwide postal strike in Tampere, Finland. Source: Marko Melto/Yle

A national postal strike began in Finland last week that may last through Dec. 8. Sympathy strikes by other unions scheduled to begin next Monday may result in significant impacts on public transport, air travel and shipping, including in connection with Estonia.

When representatives of postal workers held difficult and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations via a public conciliator, several other trade unions announced the organization of sympathy strikes or other supportive actions, reported Finnish public broadcaster Yle (link in Finnish).

Among unions to officially submit paperwork are the Finnish Aviation Union (IAU), whose employees work for companies providing ground services to all airlines operating in Finland. Sympathy strikes and actions are scheduled to begin early next Monday morning, and strikes are expected to last through early Tuesday morning.

The Finnish Transport Workers' Union (AKT), which unites employees of Finnish transport sector, is planning a work stoppage of 24 hours beginning on Monday. In practice, this means, for example, that the approximately 3,000 bus drivers who work in the Helsinki metro area will not drive on Monday, leaving Helsinki without bus service for 24 hours. Bus transport-related mechanics are planning on following suit.

As the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), who is responsible for public transport in the Finnish capital, has no way of replacing this bus service, all they can do at this point is inform the public of the impending strike.

The Finnish Food Workers' Union (SEL) announced that it would not handle packages or shipments related to the national postal service or its subsidiaries starting this Friday.

A sympathy strike by the Finnish Seafarers' Union (SM-U) that began early Tuesday morning has already hampered the movement of mail to Finland's islands.

A support action by the same to begin next Monday will affect Tallink's Silja Line as well as Viking Line passengers as well; a sympathy strike would affect all ships sailing under the Finnish flag.

Tallink Silja ferries to be affected would include the Baltic Princess on the Turku-Stockholm route, and the Silja Serenade on the Helsinki-Stockholm route. The Baltic Princess is to remain in port in Turku on the night of Nov. 25, and the Silja Serenade in port in Helsinki on the morning of Nov. 26.

Viking Line announced that a sympathy strike would affect five of its ferries — the Mariella, Gabriella, Amorella, Viking Grace, and Rosella.

Tallinn-Helsinki ferry to be affected

Should parties to the dispute in Finland not reach an agreement, the Eckerö Line ferry Finlandia's final pre-strike departure will be from Tallinn to Helsinki on Nov. 25, the company announced.

The Finlandia is scheduled to depart Tallinn for Helsinki at 6:00 a.m., where the vessel will thereafter remain in port.

"We hope that the parties reach an agreement and these support actions are not realized," Eckerö Line said in a statement. "We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will notify our passengers of any possible impacts of the strike."

Eckerö Line also promised to provide information about any effects the strike may have on the MS Finbo Cargo, which serves the Muuga-Vuosaari route, within the next few days.

"Employees of the shipper Tallink Estonia's ferries will not be joining the sympathy strike," a spokesperson for Tallink told ERR. "Planning on participating in the strike are Tallink vessels sailing under the Finnish flag."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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