A story about Finnish Politics – or lack of…

The Prime Minister here has announced today (15.10.2018) that his government has achieved 115 000 new jobs and that the this week, he is asking Parliament to approve a proposal that will make it a little easier for very small companies (less than 10 staff) to fire staff. He says that this proposal will allow some 35 000 to 40 000 more unemployed to find jobs since these companies will have an easier time to fire staff. 

The trade unions have objected to this proposal and are planning strikes and more industrial action. The Prime Minister demands that the trade unions should stop taking industrial action against this proposal because a positive vote this week in Parliament will mean that democracy demands the unions to stand down! 

He has no legal footing for such a demand and naturally, with a majority in Parliament, he will win the vote! 

Industrial action by unions is always somewhat politically motivated when the left-wing is in opposition. However, Finland like our Nordic neighbours, has seen reasonably good working relationships between the unions and the big political parties. 

There are good reasons to believe the above statement, and this means that the government and the unions should back down for the following reasons:

Firstly, the present government in Finland has not been the main reason for 115 000 people to find jobs. That is attributable to the upturn in the world’s economy.

Secondly, few economist believe that 35 000 to 40 000 unemployed will find new jobs as a result of this proposed law. Really small SME’s need a lot more reforms and support to grow!

Thirdly the government needs to do much more to reform the labour market, but the fact is that the elections are coming and this is now a lame duck government. 

One can speculate why the PM is driving this proposal so aggressively. Perhaps the fact that support for the Centre Party has fallen so dramatically in the polls is the main reason. The Social Democrats are well placed in the polls to take the lead in the next elections and it will be perfectly clear that they will annul this law if they come to power.

The unions are wrong to make such a fuss about this proposal since strikes will cost jobs of their members.

Both sides need to sit down and find a compromise, because Finland, like most other EU countries, will be seeing a downturn in the next 12 months. Nobody cannot afford dumb strikes and dumb government.

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