Amendments to industrial peace legislation sent out for comments
Improving industrial peace is one of the Government’s labour market reforms. The proposed legislative amendments were prepared in a tripartite working group that was not unanimous in its work. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will circulate the working group’s report for comments from 23 October to 4 December 2023.
The Government aims to improve industrial peace in the labour market in order to ensure that Finland is a reliable and secure country for investments.
More sanctions for unlawful strikes
According to legislation, the obligation to maintain industrial peace applies when a collective agreement is in force. This means that the agreement in question cannot be a target of industrial action. Industrial action by employees directed at their own collective agreement while the agreement is in force is considered an unlawful strike for which compensatory fines can be imposed.
The working group’s report proposes to enhance the sanctions system for unlawful strikes. The level of compensatory fines would be raised, with the maximum amount set at EUR 150,000 and the minimum amount set at EUR 10,000. According to the working group’s report, the level of compensatory fine could be reduced below the minimum amount or waived completely, for a special reason.
Compensatory fines can only be imposed on an association and employer that are party to a collective agreement and bound by the industrial peace obligation. The working group proposes that an employee who continues an industrial action which the Labour Court has found to be unlawful would be subject to pay their employer a penalty payment of EUR 200.
The purpose of the amendments is to reduce the number of unlawful industrial actions.
Disproportionate solidarity action to be limited
Solidarity actions support the industrial action of another group of employees. When the obligation to maintain industrial peace was in force, a solidarity action could not be carried out if the way it is carried out or its harmful consequences for those not party to the main dispute were disproportionate to the objective pursued. If the industrial peace obligation was not in force, the above mentioned restriction would only apply to situations where the aim of the industrial action was not to conclude a collective agreement.
The body implementing the solidarity action would have to ensure the continuation of services or functions necessary for the functioning of society.
Most solidarity actions that have occurred so far would be permitted in future too.
Length of political industrial action to be restricted
A political industrial action refers to an industrial action implemented by an employee organisation directed at a political decision-maker or decision-making. According to the report, the maximum duration of political work stoppages would be 24 hours and that of other industrial action would be two weeks.
Duty to notify of industrial action to be extended
It is proposed that those organising a solidarity action or political industrial action in the form of a work stoppage would have to notify of it no later than seven days before its start. The notification would be submitted to the National Conciliator’s Office, to the employer affected by the industrial action, if possible, and, to the parties to a collective agreement if the industrial peace obligation is in force.
Parliament to consider the amendments in spring 2024
The programme of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government includes proposals for improving industrial peace. A tripartite working group addressed issues related to industrial peace from 3 July to 15 October 2023. The working group’s task was to draw up a report in the form of a government proposal. The group was not unanimous in its work.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will circulate the working group’s report for comments from 23 October to 4 December 2023. After the consultation round, preparatory work by public officials will continue. The Government aims to submit its proposal on industrial peace to Parliament on 1 February 2024.
Nico Steiner, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 049 001