Rail strike in Finland is over after new collective agreement
The nationwide rail strike in Finland that started on March 20th has come to an end after only two days. This is because, as trade union Railway Union Finland (RAU) specified, Finnish locomotive drivers accepted a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Service Sector Employers Palta (Palta).
Train drivers in Finland will therefore be back at work tomorrow, Friday 24 March, as a spokesperson from VR told RailFreight.com. The new CBA will be valid until March 2025 and will entail a 4 per cent wage increase this May 2024 and an additional 2 per cent rise in June of the same year.
According to RAU, national Finnish railway company VR will assess the effectiveness of the new CBS over the next few months. VR will focus on how the new agreement supports the workers’ well-being and on the balance between work and free time in the context of irregular work shifts.
A short-lived strike
The strike was announced for Monday 20 March at 00:01 and it was expected to last at least until the end of the month. All domestic rail freight services were canceled all over the country, leaving international traffic unaffected. However, the round of talks held yesterday, 22 March, proved effective and the RAU strike was called off. Rumours about a positive outcome were in the air already yesterday, but the strike stoppage was confirmed today bt both RAU and VR.
Two months of failed negotiations between RAU and Palta
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.
March has been an intense month so far when it comes to negotiations between RAU and Palta. On 10 March, the union criticised 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 workgroups.