Finnish train drivers on strike, at least until the end of March
A nationwide rail strike in Finland started Monday 20 March and will take place until further notice. “Freight trains will also be cancelled, with a few exceptions”, the Finnish national railway company VR pointed out.
The strike, announced by the Finnish trade union Railway Union Finland (RAU), which covers locomotive drivers, is effective as of 00:01 on Monday. RAU said on March 10 that the strike could last at least until 31 March, however, yesterday it claimed that the strike is valid until further notice. As RAU specified, the strike is a consequence of failed negotiations between the union and Service Sector Employers Palta (Palta).
Freight trains that departed in the night between Sunday and Monday were still taken to their destination, as VR stated. All long-distance and commuter trains will be canceled as well, with tickets being refunded. For freight trains, the refund process is not public, as a spokesperson from VR told RailFreight.com. “It’s based on an agreement between the transport company and the customer and these agreements are confidential”, they specified.
Two months of failed negotiations
March has been an intense month so far when it comes to negotiations between RAU and Palta. On 10 March, the union said that the proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement by National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara. “The settlement proposal was worse than the previous one. It included weakening the notice periods for layoffs and the right to sick leave”, RAU commented. Another reason that led to the rejection of the proposal is that all goals related to occupational well-being were left up to the work groups.
Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between RAU and Palta began on 16 January 2023. The agenda for the negotiations revolves around locomotive drivers’ duties concerning transport, customer service, and traffic management and control. Other than salary increases, RAU wants to focus the negotiations on issues related to work shifts, which have not been resolved with the companies and therefore need to be addressed through a collective bargaining agreement.
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